Press Releases

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Feds to Analyze Environmental Impacts of Western Pacific Longline Fisheries for Tuna (Feb. 16, 2017)

HONOLULU (16 Feb. 2017) The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced on Monday  its intent to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to analyze the environmental impacts of U.S. Pacific Island deep-set tuna longline fisheries managed under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) and other applicable laws. The PEIS will be developed in coordination with the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), which develops, monitors, and amends the Pelagic FEP.

“The PEIS is a proactive step in the management of deep-set tuna longline fisheries,” said Council Executive Director Kitty M. Simonds. “It streamlines environmental review for future management decisions and facilitates the ability of fisheries to adaptively respond to changing conditions.”

U.S. longline vessels at Pier 38 in Honolulu to land their tuna catches at the Honolulu fish auction.

Public scoping meetings on the PEIS will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 21 in Hilo and Feb. 23 in Honolulu, Hawaii; Feb. 28 in Utulei, March 1 in Tafuna and March 2 in Pago Pago, American Samoa; March 7 in Susupe, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and March 9 in Mangilao, Guam. The public is invited to comment on issues that NMFS should address in the draft PEIS related to management of the deep-set tuna longline fisheries. This will assist NMFS and the Council in determining the scope of the environmental issues and in developing a reasonable range of fishery management alternatives to analyze in the draft PEIS.

Deep-set tuna longline fisheries authorized under the Pelagic FEP are based in Hawaii, the West Coast, American Samoa, Guam and the CNMI and target tunas deeper than 100 meters. The primary fleets are in Hawaii and American Samoa. Access to the Hawaii longline fisheries is limited to 164 vessels, of which about 140 are typically active. Most vessels with Hawaii longline permits are based in Hawaii, and about 10 operate from West Coast ports. Access to the American Samoa deep-set tuna fishery is limited to 60 permits. Historically, a few deep-set tuna longline vessels operated out of Guam and the CNMI, but these fisheries have been inactive since 2011.

The Notice of Intent can be accessed and downloaded from the Federal Register website at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/13/2017-02820/pacific-island-pelagic-fisheries-deep-set-tuna-longline-fisheries. Additional information about deep-set tuna longline fisheries managed under the FEP and the progress of the PEIS can be found http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/SFD/pelagic_deepset_tuna_longline_fisheries_pacific_islands_peis.html. 

Under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council manages fisheries seaward of the state and territorial waters around American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam, Hawai’i and the U.S. possessions in the Western Pacific Region (Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Palmyra, Jarvis, Howland, Baker, Midway and Wake Islands).

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai`i governors: Edwin Ebisui Jr. (Hawaii) (chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); McGrew Rice, commercial and charter fisherman (Hawaii) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawaii); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawaii);  Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources; Richard Seman, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture. Designated federal officials: Matthew Brown, USFWS; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; RAdm Vincent B. Atkins, USCG 14th District; and Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office.

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Fishery Council Releases Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (Feb. 7, 2017)

HONOLULU (7 Feb. 2017) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is pleasedto announce the release of the 2015 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region. Pelagic fisheries are the single largest fishery sector in the region, accounting for more than 90 percent of the landings and value of commercial fish catches. Recreational pelagic fisheries and charter fisheries are also extremely important in the Western Pacific. Noncommercial catches of some species in Hawai’i, such as yellowfin tuna, may exceed the commercial catch. For-hire or charter fisheries are also very important in Hawai’i, where the charter fleet in Kona is the largest charter fishery in the world based on blue marlin.
 
“The 2015 SAFE Report represents a major advance in the monitoring and evaluation of the pelagic fisheries in our region,” said Council Executive Director Kitty M. Simonds. “Besides the usual complement of fishery modules found in previous reports, the 2015 report has in-depth chapters on protected species, stock assessment summaries, socio-economics and human dimensions of pelagic fisheries, climate and oceanic indicators, essential fish habitat and marine planning.”

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Fishery Council Sends Letters to Obama on Impacts of Marine National Monuments (15 Dec. 2016)

HONOLULU (15 Dec. 2016) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is hopeful that when President Obama arrives in Honolulu tomorrow, he will acknowledge the $100 million commercial fishing industry in Hawai‘i and the impacts on that fishery by his expansions of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (MNM) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and the Pacific Remote Islands MNM, which includes nearby Johnston Atoll. The value of the Hawaii longline fishery is excess of $300 million when factoring in retail markets and support industries and their employees.
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Press Release – Statewide Meetings Being Held on NWHI Marine Monument Fishing Regulations (Dec. 7, 2016)

HONOLULU (7 Dec. 2016) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday in Hilo began holding a series of public scoping meetings to prepare fishing measures for the newly expanded area of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). By Presidential executive order, commercial fishing will be prohibited and non-commercial and Native Hawaiian subsistence fishing will be regulated.
The meetings continue tonight in Kailua-Kona and end on Dec. 17 in Molokai.  Those unable to attend are welcome to send comments to info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov or by mail to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813.  At this scoping phase of the process, there is no comment deadline.
The expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument prohibits commercial fishing in about 61 percent of the US EEZ around Hawai’i. Marine national monuments now comprise 51 percent of US EEZ waters in the US Pacific Islands.
 
Dec. 7 (W) 6 to 8 p.m. West Hawaii Civic Club, Bldg. G, 74-5044 Ane Keohokaloloe Hwy.,
Kailua-Kona, Big Island
Dec. 8 (Th) 6 to 8 p.m. Courtyard, Kahului Airport, 532 Keolani Pl., Kahului, Maui
Dec. 13 (T) 6 to 8 p.m. Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, 4431 Nuhou St., Lihue, Kaua’i
Dec. 15 (Th) 6 to 8 p.m. Ala Moana Hotel, Garden Lanai, 410 Atkinson Dr., Honolulu
Dec. 17 (S) 1 to 3 p.m. Kaunakakai Elementary School, 30 Ailoa St., Kaunakaki, Moloka’i
Agenda: Informational booths, Presidential proclamation on the PMNM expansion, Council’s rule-making role, data discovery questions and public comments.

For more information, go to www.wpcouncil.org or email info.wpcouncil@noaa.gov, ph. (808) 522-8220.
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Press Release – No Change Recommended for US Pacific Territories’ Longline-Caught Bigeye Tuna Limits (October 14, 2016)

HONOLULU (14 Oct. 2016) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday in Honolulu recommended that the US Participating Territory longline-caught bigeye tuna limits remain at 2,000 metric tons (mt) per Territory for 2017. Pending approval by the Secretary of Commerce, the Territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands (CNMI) are authorized to allocate up to 1,000 mt of their limit to US fishermen through specified fishing agreements as authorized under Amendment 7 of the Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Western Pacific Region. The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, requires that the Territory longline-caught bigeye tuna limits be reviewed and recommended on an annual basis.

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Press Release – Statewide Meetings to Be Held on NWHI Marine Monument Fishing Regulations (Oct. 14, 2016)

HONOLULU (14 Oct. 2016) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, in Honolulu today, agreed to the drafting of amendments and regulations to the Hawai‘i and Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) to accommodate provisions of the August 26th Presidential Proclamation that expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to encompass the entire 200-mile US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. In accordance with the proclamation, the amendments would prohibit commercial fishing for federally managed precious corals, crustacean, bottomfish, pelagic and coral reef species. The regulations may allow non-commercial fishing and native Hawaiian traditional fishing practices including subsistence fishing and regulate other activities as appropriate.  
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Press Release – Fishery Managers Consider NWHI Monument Measures, Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits (11 Oct. 2016)

HONOLULU (11 Oct. 2016) Standing Committees of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council are meeting todayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA to consider management measures for fisheries in the expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI); 2017 longline-caught bigeye tuna catch limits in American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and other offshore fishery management issues. The full Council will consider recommendations from the Standing Committees and its advisory bodies this Wednesday through Friday at Fuller Hall, YWCA, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu.

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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 www.wpcouncil.org, email info@wpcouncil.org or phone (808) 522-8220.

For a PDF of this press release click here

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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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Press Release – Fishery Council to Address Territorial Bigeye Tuna Limits, Proposed Papahanaumokuakea Monument Expansion

HONOLULU (2 Aug. 2016) Federal fishery managers will meet by teleconference and webinar tomorrow to recommend the 2017 U.S. Pacific Island territorial catch and transfer limits for bigeye tuna caught by longline in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will also address the proposed expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the IUCN World Conservation Congress, among other items.

The teleconference will be hosted at the following venues:

  • Council Conference Room, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu
  • Land Grant Conference Room, American Samoa Community College’s Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources; Mapusaga Rd., Malaeimi Village, American Samoa
  • Guam Hilton Resort and Spa, 202 Hilton Rd., Tumon Bay, Guam
  • Department of Land and Natural Resources Conference Room, Santa Remedio Dr., Lower Base, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

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