Press Release – Mandatory Hawai‘i Pelagic Small Boat Fishery Permit and Reporting to Be Explored (10 March 2020)

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HONOLULU (10 March 2020) Federal fishery managers today in Honolulu voted to explore mandatory permit and reporting requirements for the pelagic small-boat fishery in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters (3 to 200 miles offshore) around Hawai‘i. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will work with the State of Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources, as requested by the Council member representing the State’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. The State has jurisdiction over fisheries in waters 0 to 3 miles from shore. Small boat fishermen and pelagic fish (e.g., tuna, billfish, mahimahi, ono) are found in both federal and state waters, which calls for coordinated federal and state management. Information on pelagic small boat fishery, which does not include Hawai‘i longline vessels, is currently insufficient for robust fisheries management. The major gap is the number, catch and effort of noncommercial fishermen. Currently, mandatory permits and reporting are required for the commercial sector only through the State’s commercial marine license program. The Council made its decision following a presentation of the findings of public scoping meetings held throughout the Hawaiian Islands by the Council in early 2020. An options paper on the proposal will be reviewed by the Council at its next meeting in June 2020 in Honolulu.

Tomorrow and Thursday the current Council meeting will continue at the YWCA Fuller Hall, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Key agenda items to be addressed include annual catch limits for the bottomfish fisheries of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) for fishing years 2020-2023; revisions to the list of federally managed bottomfish species in American Samoa, Guam and the CNMI; catch and allocation limits for longline-caught bigeye tuna in the US Pacific Island territories for fishing year 2020; and marine conservation plans for Guam, CNMI and the Pacific Remote Island Areas.

To participate by web conference: Go to You may connect to the audio via the computer or telephone. If you use the telephone for the audio, sign into Webex via your computer first and look for the “call in” prompt to obtain the call-in instructions and a participant number. Public comments will be taken at the end of each agenda section for items relevant to the applicable agenda section only. To make a public comment, send a private chat message via Webex to the “host (Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council)” prior to the start of the public comment period of the applicable agenda section.

For more information on the meeting, go to or contact the Council at or (808) 522-8220.

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaii governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai‘i) (vice chair); Howard Dunham, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); Monique Genereux, business owner (Guam); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (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 Kevin Lunday, USCG 14th District; Michael Brakke, US Department of State; Brian Peck, USFWS.

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