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Winter 2019 Pacific Islands Fishery Newsletter

Click here for printable PDF

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FR Notice – Reclassifying Management Unit Species to Ecosystem Component Species (Feb. 8, 2019)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: This final rule reclassifies certain management unit species in the Pacific Islands as ecosystem component species. The rule also updates the scientific and local names of certain species. The intent of this final rule is to prioritize conservation and management efforts and to improve efficiency of fishery management in the region.
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Global Seafood Market Conference

Date: January 15-17, 2019
Location: San Diego, CA

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2019 International Council for Exploration of the Sea Workshop

Date: January 14-18, 2019
Location: Seattle, WA

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Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) Meeting (Important Actions regarding Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas)

Date: January 11, 2019          Time: 9:15 am
Location: KALANIMOKU BUILDING, LAND BOARD CONFERENCE ROOM 132, 1151 PUNCHBOWL STREET, HONOLULU, HAWAIʻI 96813

Important Actions regarding Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas: REQUEST TO REPEAL, FOUR OF THE EXISTING MAIN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS BOTTOMFISH RESTRICTED FISHING AREAS
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2019 NMFS Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program Funding Opportunity: Pre-Proposals Due January 30, 2019

NMFS is soliciting proposals for their Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (BREP), with pre-proposals due on January 30, 2019 (5pm Eastern Time). The Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program provides funding to support applied management projects and activities to reduce bycatch. Through the program, NMFS supports the development and testing of fishing gears that minimize bycatch and habitat impacts.
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2019-2020 US Pacific Territories Fishery Capacity-Building Scholarship Announcement, Applications due Mar. 1st

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council and its Education Committee members are pleased to announce the availability of up to three undergraduate or graduate scholarships for the 2019-2020 academic year. These scholarships support the aspiration of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to build their capacity to effectively manage their fisheries and related resources through employment of their own people. These scholarships cover the cost of tuition and fees and some living expenses.  However, for undergraduates, there is an expectation that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be completed early and Pell grants obtained so the relevant university’s Financial Aid Office can determine the amount of aid needed. Click here for more information and a complete scholarship application. Funding for the scholarships comes in part from the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office and Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center. For further details, please contact Sylvia Spalding at info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or phone (808) 522-8220.
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Press Release – Modern Recreational Fisheries Management Act Implications in the Western Pacific Region (10 January 2019)

HONOLULU (10 January 2019) On the last day of 2018, President Trump signed into law the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act (S. 1520), also known as the Modern Fish Act. The bill, which had been stagnant since its introduction in 2017, was pushed through by the efforts of the same coalition of sports fishing organizations that earlier in the year supported the amended Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. The amended Billfish Act had major consequences for the commercial fisheries in Hawaii and the US Pacific Island territories by banning interstate commerce of a sustainable, traditional fishery in the islands. The Modern Fish Act, on the other hand, is more targeted toward the management of recreational fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico but may have implications for fisheries management in the Western Pacific Region, i.e., the US Pacific Islands.
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Request for Comments – Request to Repeal, Four of the existing Main Hawaiian Islands Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas (COMMENTS DUE by Jan. 11, 2019)

REQUEST TO REPEAL, FOUR OF THE EXISTING MAIN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
BOTTOMFISH RESTRICTED FISHING AREAS

The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is taking a conservative approach and is proposing to repeal four of the 12 BRFAs. To determine which BRFAs to repeal, DAR considered several factors which include: habitat value, fishery return, enforceability, safety, a DAR initiated survey that solicited the opinion of registered bottomfishers, and recommendations by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. Another major factor considered was equity for fishing opportunity at the county level. Based on the factors considered, DAR recommends repealing the following BRFAs: BRFA C (Poipu, Kauai County), BRFA F (Penguin Banks, Honolulu County), BRFA J (Hana, Maui County), and BRFA L (Leleiwi, Hawaii Island).
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Press Release – Federal Managers Delay Final Recommendations on Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtle Interactions with Hawaii Swordfish Fishery (Dec. 18, 2018)

The fishery is scheduled to reopen on Jan. 1, 2019, with allowable interactions of 26 leatherbacks and 17 loggerheads. Should either interaction level be reached, the fishery will close for the remainder of 2019, unless the biological opinion currently in development allows for higher interaction levels and NMFS implements new regulations.

The current leatherback level is based on a 2012 biological opinion, while, consistent with a court-approved settlement agreement, the loggerhead level is based on a 2004 biological opinion. As a result of a split Ninth Circuit decision, a federal district court vacated the loggerhead cap of 34, while leaving the leatherback interaction limit of 26 in place.  The lawsuit settlement also closed the fishery from May 8 to Dec. 31, 2018.
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