Press Release: Scientists to Advise on NWHI Monument Fisheries, Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits

HONOLULU (29 Sept. 2016) President Obama’s proclamation expanding the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) to include 532,578 square miles of ocean prohibits commercial fishing but allows non-commercial fishing including native Hawaiian subsistence fishing. In a letter dated Sept. 23, 2016, to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto said that he looked “forward to the Council’s recommendations for amending the Hawai‘i and Pelagic fishery ecosystem plans to establish appropriate fishing requirements under the Magnuson-Stevens [Fishery Conservation and Management] Act, including the prohibition on commercial fishing and the regulation of non-commercial fishing.”unnamed

During its deliberations, the Council will consider the advice of its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), a group of renowned fishery scientists, which will convene Oct. 4 to 6, 2016, at the Council office, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu. Among the items to be reviewed is the economic impact of lost fishing grounds in the US exclusive economic zone as a result of the monument expansion.

The SSC is also scheduled to provide advice on the 2017 longline bigeye catch limits for American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These US flagged islands are Participating Territories of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. This international regional fishery management organization, to which the US is a party, has developed national quotas for longline-caught bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, but set no longline bigeye catch limits for Small Island Developing States and Participating Territories. In 2014, the Council amended its Pacific Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) to provide a framework to establish catch or fishing effort limits for the US Participating Territories in relation to WCPFC conservation and management measures. Under the framework, the Council has recommended and NMFS has approved annual catch limits of 2,000 metric tons (mt) for each US Territory in the Pacific with the ability to transfer 1,000 mt under specified fishing agreements to fishing vessels permitted under the FEP. These US Territory catch limits are reviewed and specified annually.

During the SSC meeting next week, eight outgoing SSC members will be recognized for their terms of service and new members will be welcomed, including Professor Ray Hilborn, University of Washington; Dr. Steve Martell, private consultant, International Halibut Commission; Dr. Debra T. Cabrera Social Sciences Faculty, St. John’s School, Guam; and Justin Hospital, NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

The Council will consider the recommendations from the SSC and its other advisory bodies at its 168th meeting, Oct. 12 to 14, 2016, at Fuller Hall, YWCA, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu. Fishermen, other stakeholders and members of the public are invited to attend the meetings as well as the Fishers Forum on “Magnuson and Marine Monuments: Social-Environmental Justice in the Era of Large Marine Protected Areas,” 6 to 9 p.m., October 12, at the Ala Moana Hotel, Garden Lanai, 410 Atkinson Dr., Honolulu. For more information and complete agendas, go to, email or phone (808) 522-8220.

For a PDF of this press release click here


Press Release – Fishery Council Asks for Transparent Analysis of Proposed Marine Monument Expansion

HONOLULU (5 Aug. 2016) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on Wednesday agreed to a resolution that asks the U.S. government to address a suite of concerns before acting on the proposed expansion on the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (MNM) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Council members Suzanne Case, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources chair, and Julie Leialoha, Conservation Council for Hawaii president, voted against the proposal. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto abstained.
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Letters against the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) expansion

Letters against the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) expansion


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Fishery Data Collection and Research Committee

Date: June 4, 2016
Location: Fiesta Hotel and Spa, Garapan, CNMI
FR Notice
Fishery Data Collection and Research Committee Draft Meeting Report


From the Boat to the Table (New video)

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council celebratesPoke pic 40 years of successful fishery management with Boat to Plate. As this short video illustrates, it’s not about fishing. It’s about the food upon which we all depend. 13 minutes. Produced for the WPRFMC by Dean Sensui and Stacey Hayashi. (c) 2016, WPRFMC. ISBN 978-1-937863-92-0

Click here to view video on youtube



Council Sends Letter to President Obama about NWHI monument expansion request

On April 8, 2016, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery  Management Council wrote to President Obama regarding a January 2016 request to expand the expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). Click here to see a pdf of the letter.


Why U.S. Fisheries Are A Global Model Of Sustainability

Why U.S. Fisheries Are A Global Model Of Sustainability (Click here for pdf)

Outcomes from management and conservation legislation in place now for four decades include benefits throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Ocean more broadly. · By Michael Tosatto

In the 40 years since passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, we’ve been on a journey that has made U.S. fisheries management a global model of sustainability.  In the Pacific Islands, we see the wisdom of this act on our dinner plates and in our local fisheries every day.

In our region, much credit goes to the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, which is  responsible for recommending conservation and management measures to NOAA Fisheries in the Pacific Islands. Comprised of commercial and non-commercial fishermen, and environmental, academic and government interests, the council has a proud track record of achieving its goal of sustainable fisheries.

Within the Councils’ expansive jurisdiction – extending from the Hawaiian Islands through the Western Pacific including American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island and Guam – only a small number of stocks are subject to overfishing or overfished.
Federal law protecting fisheries has enabled 39 U.S. fish stocks to be rebuilt over the past 16 years.

Credit: NOAA

Working closely with the Western Pacific Council and state, territory, and commonwealth  governments, NOAA has provided development assistance, marine education and training opportunities  to ensure sustainable marine resource management now and into the future.

One popular and distinct initiative gives students from elementary through high school the chance to learn about marine science through a multi-disciplinary curriculum. This effort bolster interest in marine-related careers, advances environmental stewardship and generates understanding about why an ecosystem approach to management is so vital.

Fisheries’ successes stretch way beyond the Pacific Islands. Since 2000, 39 U.S. fish stocks have been rebuilt. In 2014, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.5 billion pounds of fish, valued at $5.4 billion. And just recently, an evaluation of fisheries management under Magnuson-Stevens showed that the United States meets or exceeds standards of sustainability set by the
international community. This means that consumers can be confident about the sustainability of fish and shellfish harvested in the Pacific Islands and across the country.

Since counting fish can be harder than you might think, NOAA scientists use satellite- based and other technologies to ensure that management of the Pacific Islands’ unique and highly migratory species rests on the best available information.

Since counting fish can be harder than you might think, NOAA scientists use satellite-based and other technologies to ensure that management of the Pacific Islands’ unique and highly migratory species rests on the best available information. Satellite data, for example, strengthen  understanding of the food web that supports ecologically and commercially important species such as yellowfin tuna, swordfish, North Pacific albacore, and neon flying squid. Numerous scientific disciplines are engaged in monitoring and assessing the status of fish stocks and the viability of regional fishery management plans.

Under a science-based framework, the U.S. is able to bring national influence to international marine resource management bodies such as the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, leading by example to ensure that shared marine resources are responsibly managed. The councils and international organizations are putting NOAA science to work by reducing bycatch and managing fisheries using a holistic ecosystem-based approach.

There are challenges ahead, including climate change, bycatch and habitat destruction. But the commitment to science-based management and technological innovation that permits our Western Pacific Council and the seven other U.S. regional fishery councils to assess fish stocks enable us to address such challenges collaboratively and creatively.

Whether you enjoy casting a line from a local pier, or eating seafood at your favorite restaurant, sustainable fisheries are everyone’s business. Working with the regional councils, fishing industries and coastal communities, Magnuson-Stevens offers a proven roadmap for successful fisheries management. It’s definitely benefited the Pacific Islands region. I look forward to another 40 years!

For more details including fish stocks in the Pacific Islands and updates on exciting projects, please visit

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Columns generally run about 800 words (yes, they can be shorter or longer) and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to

About the Author

Michael Tosatto
Michael Tosatto is Pacific Islands regional administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration Fisheries.


The Council sends letter to Mary Junck congratulating AP’s Pulitzer prize for uncovering slavery in the seafood industry

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council congratulations and appreciates the excellent work conducted by the Associated Press journalists in uncovering the slave trade for the seafood industry in South East Asia, most
notably in Thailand and Indonesia.  Click here to read letter.


FR Notice – Final Rule To List Eleven Distinct Population Segments of the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) as Endangered or Threatened and Revision of Current Listings Under the Endangered Species Act

SUMMARY: NMFS and USFWS issue a final rule to list 11 distinct population segments (DPSs) of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas; hereafter referred to as the green turtle) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Based on the best available scientific and commercial data, and after considering comments on the proposed rule, we have determined that three DPSs are endangered species and eight DPSs are threatened species. This rule supersedes the 1978 final listing rule for green turtles. It applies the existing protective regulations to the DPSs. Critical habitat is not determinable at this time but will be proposed in a future rulemaking. In the interim, the existing critical habitat designation (i.e., waters surrounding Culebra Island, Puerto Rico) remains in effect for the North Atlantic DPS.
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