News and Updates


Press Release – Council Responds to Honolulu Civil Beat Series, Acts on Hawai’i Fisheries and Protected Species (26 June 2019)

Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds (center) with (from left) Chair Archie Soliai and Vice Chairs John Gourley (CNMI), Dean Sensui (Hawai’i) and Michael Duenas (Guam).

HONOLULU (26 June 2019) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday in Honolulu responded to the Honolulu Civil Beat‘s three-part series suggesting members of the Council’s Executive Committee engaged in decision-making for self-profit.

Vice Chair John Gourley (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI) said the Civil Beat articles implied that funding he received from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund for fish biosampling continued after he became a Council member. Honolulu Civil Beat statements about Gourley were included in a section titled “Conflicts of Interest.” Gourley said he received no such funding after he became a Council member and there was no conflict of interest. He said he feels Civil Beat has possibly damaged his reputation and that of his environmental consulting business.

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Press Release – Scientists Recommend Removing Catch Limits, Increasing Allocation Limits for US Pacific Territory Longline-Caught Bigeye Tuna (20 June 2019)

Bigeye tuna drawing. Courtesy Les Hata, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

HONOLULU (20 June 2019) The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council concluded a three-day meeting today in Honolulu recommending bigeye tuna catch limits and allocation amounts for the US Participating Territories for the fishing years 2020 to 2023. This and other recommendations by the Council’s SSC will be considered by the Council at its 178th meeting in Honolulu on June 25-27. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters in Hawaiʻi and other US Pacific Islands.
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June 20, 2019



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Spring 2019 Pacific Islands Fishery Newsletter

Click here for printable PDF.


Press Release – Kona Crab, Bigeye Tuna among Fishery Science Discussions Next Week in Honolulu (11 June 2019)

Kona crab drawing. Courtesy 
NOAA Fisheries/Kat Uno
HONOLULU (11 June 2019) Renowned scientists from throughout the Pacific will meet June 18-20 in Honolulu to consider a range of issues facing the offshore fisheries of Hawai’i and the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Recommendations from this group known as the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will be forwarded to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which meets in Honolulu on June 25-27. The Council develops fishery management measures for the fisheries, which are transmitted to the US Secretary of Commerce for approval and implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Kona Crab: SSC members will hear reports to inform their setting the acceptable biological catch for the main Hawaiian Islands Kona crab. Updated information is now available from a 2019 benchmark stock assessment with catch projection to 2026. The SSC’s recommendation, including a new way to incorporate management uncertainties and risk of overfishing, will help the Council specify multi-year harvest limits for fishing years 2020-2023.
Bigeye Tuna: In December 2018, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed to limit the US longline bigeye tuna catch in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to 3,554 metric tons annually in 2019 and 2020. In 2014, an amendment to the Council’s Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan in part provided NMFS with the authority to specify annual catch limits in US participating territories. It also allows NMFS to specify a limit, recommended by the Council, authorizing a US participating territory to allocate a portion of that specified catch limit to eligible US vessels through a fishing agreement. The SSC will decide on potential catch and/or allocation limits to recommend to the Council, in addition to considering if the limits should be re-evaluated annually or after multiple years.
Other Issues:
  • The SSC will review and provide input on a NOAA Fisheries framework for determining that stock status determinations and catch specifications are based on the best scientific information available.
  • A working group of the SSC will seek to define benefits and limitations to spatial management actions, both existing and potential, relative to pertinent regional fishery issues and management objectives.
  • The SSC will review and may endorse a process developed by its working group to comply with the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Act (2018) requirement for greater incorporation of non-governmental information sources into federal fisheries management.
Scientific and Statistical Committee:
James Lynch (K&L Gates LLP) (chair); Debra Cabrera (University of Guam); Frank Camacho (University of Guam); Milani Chaloupka (University of Queensland); Erik Franklin (University of Hawai'i, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology); Shelton Harley (Ministry for Primary Industries, NZ); Ray Hilborn (University of Washington); Justin Hospital (NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center); David Itano (fisheries consultant); Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Steve Martell (SeaState Inc.); Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources); Ryan Okano (Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources); Graham Pilling (Secretariat of the Pacific Community); Kurt Schaefer (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission); Craig Severance (University of Hawai`i at Hilo, retired); Michael Tenorio (CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife); and Michael Seki (ex-officio) (NMFS PIFSC).

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaii governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, Hawaii Goes Fishing (Hawai'i) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai'i); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai'i); McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Raymond Roberto, CNMI Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawai'i Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muña-Brecht, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasra, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): RADM Kevin Lunday, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; Brian Peck, USFWS.

FR Notice – Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries: 2019 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits (Jun. 21, 2019)


Proposed specifications; request for comments.


NMFS proposes a 2019 limit of 2,000 metric tons (t) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. Pacific territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)). NMFS would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 t each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria. As an accountability measure, NMFS would monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary) catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. The proposed catch limits and accountability measures would support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands.


NMFS must receive comments by June 21, 2019.

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Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program Notice of Funding Opportunity FY2020

NOAA Fisheries is pleased to announce the 2020 Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant competition is currently open. 

This year’s solicitation consists of two separate submission processes. All interested applicants must submit a two (2) page Pre-Proposal to the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) posted at found here.  Applicants interested in submitting a full application after the pre-proposal review process must submit the full application through

Please note that under this one Notice of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) there are two (2) competition links.  Please be sure to submit your pre-proposals to the “PRE PROPOSALS FY20 Saltonstall-Kennedy” link within the dates specified in this FFO.  Please be sure to submit your FULL Proposals to the “FULL Proposals FY20 Saltonstall-Kennedy” link prior to the date specified in this FFO. Be sure to read the FFO and follow the directions closely.

The goal of the S-K program is to fund projects that address the needs of fishing communities, optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and increase other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable. The FY20 solicitation seeks applications that fall into one of two priorities:

  • Promotion, Development, and Marketing
  • Science or Technology that Promotes Sustainable U.S. Seafood Production and Harvesting

To see original post on NOAA website, click here.


FR Notice – List of Fisheries for 2019 (May 16, 2019)

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2019, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The LOF for 2019 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS must classify each commercial fishery on the LOF into one of three categories under the MMPA based upon the level of mortality and serious injury of marine mammals that occurs incidental to each fishery. The classification of a fishery on the LOF determines whether participants in that fishery are subject to certain provisions of the MMPA, such as registration, observer coverage, and take reduction plan (TRP) requirements.

DATES: The effective date of this final rule is June 17, 2019.
ADDRESSES: Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jaclyn Taylor, Office of Protected Resources, 301–427–8402; Allison Rosner, Greater Atlantic Region, 978–281–9328; Jessica Powell, Southeast Region, 727–824–5312; Dan Lawson, West Coast Region, 562–980–3209; Suzie Teerlink, Alaska Region, 907–586–7240; Kevin Brindock, Pacific Islands Region, 808–725–5146. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the hearing impaired may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1–800– 877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:57 May 15, 2019 Jkt 247001 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\16MYR1.SGM 16MYR1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 22052 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 95 / Thursday, May 16, 2019 / Rules and Regulations Eastern time, Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays.

Click here for complete FR Notice.


Council solicits for Advisory Panel Member Alternates in CNMI and Hawaii

By Council Staff(Edit)

Applications for the Council’s Advisory Panel Available

The Council is currently soliciting for alternates for the CNMI and Hawaii Advisory Panels.  Fishermen, members of fishery-related industries and individuals from fishery- or marine related organizations are invited to apply for membership to the Advisory Panel (AP) for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

Each of the Advisory Panels includes representatives from commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, subsistence and indigenous fisheries, and ecosystems and habitat who meet the following criteria:

  • Present or recent activity in recreational, commercial or subsistence fishing;
  • Present or recent involvement in the buying, processing or marketing sectors of the fishing industry and/or involvement in conservation or management organizations, fishing clubs or other organized groups concerned with marine or fisheries issues;
  • Willingness to play an active role in fisheries management; and
  • Ability to dedicate time for fishery document review and participate in panel meetings.

AP members provide advice to the Council on all aspects of the region’s fisheries and suggest management strategies.

The AP terms are for four years and have started on Jan. 1, 2019.  Positions are voluntary (not paid).  However, members may be reimbursed for certain expenses related to their participation in meetings.

Applications are being accepted electronically and can be found at   For those who may need other arrangements, please call the Council Office at (808) 522-8220 for assistance.  Completed applications must be received by the Council before May 31, 2019 to be considered for membership.

For more information, contact Joshua DeMello at the Council at or (808) 522-7493.


FR Notice – Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Procedures for the Active and Inactive Vessel Register (April 16, 2019)

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: NMFS is proposing regulations under the Tuna Conventions
Act of 1950 (TCA), as amended, to implement International Maritime
Organization (IMO) requirements in Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Resolution C–18–06 (Resolution (Amended) on a Regional Vessel Register) and amendments to existing regulations related to the IATTC Regional Vessel Register (Vessel Register) for purse seine vessels fishing in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). The proposed rule would expand the IMO number requirements to include certain categories of smaller U.S. vessels fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the EPO. The proposed rule would also modify regulations associated with the Vessel Register and prohibition and incidental catch provisions. These revisions would provide more clarity and make U.S. regulations more consistent with the IATTC management framework, while allowing controlled operational flexibility for the U.S. industry.

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule and supporting documents must be submitted in writing by May 16, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2018–0030, by any of the following methods:

• Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0030, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

• Mail: Submit written comments to Daniel Studt, NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office, 501 W Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802. Include the identifier ‘‘NOAA–NMFS– 2018–0030’’ in the comments.

Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure they are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on without change.

All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

Copies of the draft Regulatory Impact Review and other supporting documents are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal:, docket NOAA– NMFS–2018–0030, or by contacting Daniel Studt, NMFS West Coast Region, 501 W Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802, or emailing

Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this proposed rule may be submitted to the NMFS West Coast Region Long Beach Office at the address listed above, by email to, or by fax to (202) 395–5806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel Studt, NMFS, West Coast Region, 562–980–4073.