Press Releases

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Press Release – Federal Managers Make Recommendations to Keep US Pacific Island Fisheries Viable (Oct. 24, 2018)

GARAPAN, COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS (24 October 2018) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday concluded its two-day meeting in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) with recommendations regarding pelagic, international and American Samoa fisheries. Underpinning the discussions were concerns about keeping healthy, sustainable US Pacific Island fisheries viable amid an accumulation of US regulations and international negotiations. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI and the US Pacific Remote Islands.
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Press Release- Federal Managers Present Gov. Torres with $250K for Fisheries Training, Recommend Bottomfish Catch Limits and Other CNMI and Protected Species Measures (Oct. 23, 2018)

GARAPAN, COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS (23 October 2018) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council opened its 174th meeting yesterday in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) with the presentation of a check for $250,000 to  Gov. Ralph Torres and Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony  Benavente. The funds stem from the 2017 bigeye fishing agreement between the Commonwealth and Hawaii longline vessels.

(from right) Council Executive Director Kitty M. Simonds presents $250K check to Gov. Ralph Torres accompanied by CNMI Senate President Arnold Palacios, Council Acting Chair John Gourley of CNMI and CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony Benavente.

In presenting the check, Council Executive Director Kitty M. Simonds said to Gov. Torres that “the funds will be used to implement a bottomfish training and fishing demonstration project, which would then lead hopefully to purchase of a vessel to help with your fishery development,” which Torres had mentioned earlier in his opening remarks to the Council. “The Council has long recognized your huge fisheries development potential for both domestic and export markets,” Simonds continued. “Bottomfish resources in the CNMI are healthy and abundant, and we look forward to this project that will train the next generation of CNMI fishermen.”

“This $250K will give us a not just a head start but an excellent opportunity to promote our fishermen and our resources so we can market not just our fish but the way we handle our fish,” Torres responded. “It’s about partnership.”
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Press Release – Scientists Support Electronic Reporting for Hawaii Longline Fishery, Comment on Proposed Increase in Fishery’s Bigeye Quota (October 18, 2018)

HONOLULU (18 October 2018) Scientists from throughout the Pacific concluded their three-day meeting yesterday in Hilo on the island of Hawai‘i recommending that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council take initial action to require mandatory electronic reporting for the Hawaii longline fleet. These and other recommendations by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) on federally managed fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands will be considered by the Council at its 174th meeting to be held Oct. 23 and 24 in Saipan, CNMI, and Oct. 26 and 27 in Guam. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters in Hawaii and other US Pacific Islands.
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Press Release – Scientists Specify Annual Biological Catches for US Pacific Island Fisheries, Recommend Refinements to Precious Coral Habitat Designations (Oct. 17, 2018)

HONOLULU (17 October 2018) Scientists from throughout the Pacific meeting this week in Hilo on the island of Hawai‘i have made the following recommendations on federally managed fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will conclude its meeting later today. The SSC recommendations will then be considered by the Council at its 174th meeting to be held Oct. 23 and 24 in Saipan, CNMI, and Oct. 26 and 27 in Guam. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters in Hawaii and other US Pacific Islands.

During the first two days of the meeting the SSC specified annual biological catches (ABCs) for a suite of managed species. The Council will consider the ABC specifications in recommending annual catch limits (ACLs) for these species. ACLs can be equal to or lower than the ABCs set by the SSC, depending on management uncertainties. The Council’s ACL recommendations will be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval.
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Press Release – Scientists to Recommend Acceptable Biological Catch Limits for Federally Managed US Pacific Island Fisheries (13 October 2018)

Uku or grey snapper (Aprion virescens)

HONOLULU (13 October 2018) Scientists will convene next week on the island of Hawai‘i to discuss and make recommendations on federally managed fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will hold its 130th meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 15 to 17, at the Naniloa Hotel Double Tree by Hilton in Hilo.
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Press Release – US Billfish is Sustainable, Provides Fresh Seafood and Local Revenue (2 August 2018)

US Pacific Billfish Fishery Is Sustainable, Provides Fresh Seafood and Local Revenue

Pacific blue marlin (Makaira mazaran) is commonly known in Hawaii as kajiki or a‘u (the Hawaiian word applied to all marlin species). Photo credit: John Kaneko.

HONOLULU (2 August 2018) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is disappointed that America’s seafood consumers may soon be deprived of sustainably harvested domestic marlin products should President Trump sign legislation to prohibit interstate commerce of billfish (not including swordfish) landed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto’s (D-Fla.), passed the House on June 26 and the Senate on July 30 and is now headed to the president.

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Press Release – Federal Managers Recommend Sea Turtle Measures for Hawaii Shallow-Set Longliners, Four-Year Large Vessel Prohibited Area Exemption for American Samoa Longliners (13 June 2018)

WAILEA, MAUI, HAWAII (13 June 2018) Federal fishery managers, meeting today at the Wailea Beach Resort on Maui, Hawaii, have recommended measures to manage sea turtle interactions in the Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery targeting swordfish.

Swordfish landed by the Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery at the Honolulu fish auction.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council recommended amending the Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) for the Western Pacific Region to establish a framework that consists of a) annual fleet-wide limits on the number of North Pacific loggerhead and leatherback interactions; once either of these interaction limits is reached, the fishery closes for the remainder of the year; and b) individual trip interaction limits for loggerhead and leatherback turtles; when a vessel has reached the limit on a trip, the vessel would be required to return to port and may resume shallow-setting upon providing the required 72-hour notice to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for observer placement.
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Press Release – Federal Managers Recommend Increase in Hawaii Deep-Water Bottomfish Catch Limit (12 June 2018)

NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Chris Oliver (center) participated in the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council meeting this week on Maui. Also pictured are Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds and William Choy, founder of the Maui Cooperative Fishing Association.

WAILEA, MAUI, HAWAII (12 June 2018) Federal fishery managers, meeting this week at the Wailea Beach Resort on Maui, Hawaii, have recommended an increase in the annual catch limit (ACL) for seven species of main Hawaiian Islands deep-water bottomfish species. The ACL increase from 306,000 pounds to 492,000 pounds would apply to fishing years 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. The new ACL recommended by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is based on an assessment of the fish stock completed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 2018. The recommendation will be sent to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval.
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Press Release – Scientists Recommend New Measures for the Hawaii Shallow-Set Longline Fishery (10 June 2018)

WAILEA, MAUI, HAWAII (10 June 2018) Renowned scientists from throughout the Pacific meeting on Maui this past week have recommended new management measures for the Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery targeting swordfish in response to a recent spike in the fishery’s interactions with sea turtles. The fishery is currently managed through annual fleet-wide limits for loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions and is closed for the remainder of the calendar year when either limit is reached. Members of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) recommend that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council adopt a management framework that provides early detection and response to higher interaction rates and minimize further interactions while keeping the fishery open during peak swordfish season (October through March). The Council will consider the recommendation when it convenes June 11 to 13, 2018, at the Wailea Beach Resort on Maui. NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Chris Oliver is scheduled to participate in the meeting.
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Press Release – Closure of Swordfish Fishery Underscores Sea Turtle Management Success (May 11, 2018)

HONOLULU (11 May 2018) The Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery for swordfish has reached 33 of 34 allowed loggerhead sea turtle interactions for 2018 and was closed today by the National Marine Fisheries Service until Jan. 1, 2019, as a settlement agreement approved by the US District Court, District of Hawaii. Hawaii swordfish is landed and shipped fresh, ice-chilled and not frozen, with the primary market being the continental United States. Hawaii produces half of the US domestic swordfish.

“The record of 99 percent live releases, only two mortalities in 24 years and increasing loggerhead abundance over the past two decades underscore the management success of the Hawaii shallow-set longline fishery,” notes Kitty M. Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
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