HONOLULU (WPRFMC) – 12 September 2014 – A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at building the capacity of the US Pacific Island territories to manage their fisheries and fishery-related resources has been signed by more than a dozen higher education institutions and federal and local fishery management agencies and organizations in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hawaii.

Signatories include the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, University of Hawaii (UH) at Hilo, UH Manoa’s Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology, Hawaii Pacific University, American Samoa Community College, University of Guam, Northern Marianas College, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Guam Department of Agriculture, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Regional Office, NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

The partners will work together to achieve four goals with implementation to begin  with the 2015 academic year.

Identify and recruit students from the Territories/Commonwealth who are interested in a career in fishery science and/or management. These students must also commit to being employed at a fishery-related local agency in the Territories/Commonwealth. Employees in the local fishery agencies who need or desire to enhance their education and training in fishery science/management will also be identified and recruited.

Assist the identified students/employees to be successful in undergraduate and/or graduate educational endeavors. This assistance includes a) supporting and improving course articulation of fishery-related academic programs and courses among the above education institutions; b) helping to address tuition and other education-related financial needs through existing financial assistance and established federal education programs and by exploring the development of a fellowship/scholarship program that requires a commitment from the student recipient to work in a fisheries-related agency in the Territories or Commonwealth; and c) ensuring effective, ongoing advising and mentoring from both the college/university and the home Territory/Commonwealth.

Support and encourage the development of curricula, permanent courses, programs and faculty positions for fisheries at the undergraduate and/or graduate level; online fishery trainings; and internships.

Assist, support and encourage local fishery-related agencies to employ these students in the Territories/Commonwealth.

The MOU was drafted by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s Education Committee, as directed by the Council at its 159th meeting in March 2014. The Education Steering Committee will meet in October to work on an implementation plan.

To read the complete signed education MOU, click here.