Short streamer tori line design tested on Hawai’i longline vessels in 2020. Holly Naholowaa photo.
HONOLULU (18 September 2020) Yesterday, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council concluded its 2020 third-quarter meeting with the following recommendations and actions, among others. The Council is mandated by Congress to manage the fisheries offshore of Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Areas. The complete list of actions taken by the Council at the three-day meeting will be posted at http://www.wpcouncil.org/event/183rd-council-meeting/.
Mandatory Electronic Reporting: The Council took final action on a regulatory amendment for mandatory electronic reporting for vessels operating under the Hawai’i longline limited entry permit and vessels larger than 50 feet in length (i.e., size classes C and D) operating under the American Samoa longline limited entry permit. Under the amendment, vessel operators must record and submit logbook data within 24 hours after completion of each fishing day using an electronic logbook application certified by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In the event of technology malfunction, vessel operators would be required to submit the logbook data by paper or electronically within 72 hours of the end of each fishing trip. The recommended date for implementing mandatory electronic reporting is by July 1, 2021. This regulatory amendment is pending approval by the Secretary of Commerce.
Main Hawaiian Island Grey Snapper (Uku): The Council selected a preliminary annual catch limit (ACL) of 295,419 for main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) grey snapper for fishing years 2022 to 2025. This ACL corresponds to a 41% risk of overfishing. The Council also selected an annual catch target (ACT) at 36% risk of overfishing, which corresponds to annual catch of 291,010 pounds. The Council will work with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to develop accountability measures to ensure the catch does not exceed the ACL. The Council recommended that accountability measure options be considered that recognize the challenges with tracking catch from the noncommercial fishery. The Council may take final action on the ACL and accountability measures at its meeting in March 2021.
Seabird Mitigation in the Hawai’i Longline Fishery: Hawai’i longline vessels are required to mitigate interactions with seabirds. The Council will be considering including tori lines (also known as bird streamers or bird scare lines) at a future meeting as an additional option to measures already in place. The Council asked NMFS to support at-sea trials for winter 2020/spring 2021 through an Experimental Fishing Permit that would allow testing tori line efficacy without the use of blue-dyed bait when fishing north of 23° N.
North Pacific Striped Marlin: The Council will work with NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) to develop a proposed international measure to limit total catch of North Pacific striped marlin in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean from 2021 to 2024. The North Pacific population is considered to be overfished and subject to overfishing. The Council will work with NMFS PIRO to incorporate U.S. longline catch limits of North Pacific striped marlin at 457 metric tons, consistent with previous Council recommendations, into the proposed measure.
Oceanic Whitetip Sharks: The Council requested NMFS PIFSC to provide updates on its oceanic whitetip shark projects for the Council and Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) to consider at its December 2020 meetings. The species is considered overfished and subject to overfishing and is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Council also recommended that the Oceanic Whitetip Shark Working Group proceed with analyzing longline mitigation measures and that updates be completed and reviewed by the Council’s Plan Team before the March 2021 SSC meeting.
Advisory Committees: The Council approved the membership of the Non-Commercial Fishing Advisory Committee to include the Hawai’i Marine Recreational Fishing Survey coordinator, NMFS PIRO recreational fishing coordinator,NMFS PIFSC recreational fishing coordinator,Saipan Fishermen’s Association representative,Pago Pago Gamefish Association Representative, Shut Up and Fish (Guam noncommercial), Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition representative(s), Pacific Islands Fisheries Group representative(s) and Hawai’i fishing club representative(s).
The Council also approved the following proposed new members of the Fishing Industry Advisory Committee: Michael Goto (United Fishing Agency, Ltd., Hawai’i), Kerry Umamoto (Hilo Fish Company, Hawai’i), Josh Schade (Ahi Assassins, Hawai’i), Eric Kingma (Hawaii Longline Association, Hawai’i), Kenton Geer (commercial seamount fisherman, Hawai’i),Carlos Herrera (Hitman’s Tackle, Guam), Vince Haleck (Tautai O Samoa Association, American Samoa), Lino Tenorio (commercial bottomfish fisherman, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) and Dean Sensui (Hawaii Goes Fishing, Western Pacific Region).
Offshore Energy:The Council adopted an offshore energy policy that takes into account potential impacts of such developments to federal fisheries, habitat and ecosystem.
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai’i governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Dueñas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai’i) (vice chair); Howard Dunham, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); Monique Amani, business owner (Guam); Roger Dang, Fresh Island Fish Co.(Hawai’i); McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Anthony Benavente, CNMI Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawai’i Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muña-Brecht, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasara, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): RADM Matthew Sibley, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Dept. of State; and Brian Peck, US Fish and Wildlife Service.