UTULEI, AMERICAN SAMOA (19 October 2017) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday at the Rex Lee Auditorium in Utulei, American Samoa, voted to undertake the following actions regarding American Samoa fisheries operating in federal waters (3 to 200 nautical miles offshore).

American Samoa Marine Conservation Plan (MCP): The Council noted that the American Samoa MCP expires in mid-2018 and recommended that American Samoa Government (ASG) conduct meetings with relevant stakeholders to develop its new MCP before submitting it to the Council in early 2018. The MCP identifies fishery development projects to be funded from certain fines or fees received from fisheries in the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around American Samoa.

Non-fishing Impacts on Fish Habitat: The Council will ask the ASG to consider which department should have permitting and enforcement authority for sand mining regulations, provide outreach and review the regulations to ensure they are in line with other natural resource management programs. It will also encourage ASG to build capacity to collaborate between the government and communities in ongoing natural resource management and education/outreach efforts.

Fisheries Data Collection: The Council will ask the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources to distinguish between foreign longline and domestic longline in the retail fish vendor data and to provide its needs regarding data collection staff capacity and funding.

Longline Dock Extension Project: The Council recommended that the ASG commit to identifying funds for the construction of the longline dock extension or the Council will consider reprograming the funds it has to support the project.

Tri Marine/Samoa Tuna Packers (STP): The Council will ask that the company allow American Samoa longline vessels to access the STP’s small dock, which the Council helped fund. The Council will also ask the company for a status update on its facility and operations in American Samoa. STP recently closed, leaving StarKist as the sole operational tuna cannery in the Territory.

The Council will conclude its meeting today at the Rex Lee Auditorium. For the full agenda and additional information, go to www.wpcouncil.org/category/upcoming-council-and-advisory-body-meetings/ or email info@wpcouncil.org or phone (808) 522-8220.

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. (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); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai‘i); Dean Sensui, film producer (Hawai‘i); Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa). Designated state officials: Suzanne Case, Hawai`i Department of Land & Natural Resources; Ray Roberto, CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources; Matt Sablan, Guam Department of Agriculture; Henry Sesepasra, American Samoa Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources. Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (non-voting): Matthew Brown, USFWS; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; RADM Vincent B. Atkins, USCG 14th District.