Press Release – Scientists to Set Acceptable Biological Catch for Main Hawaiian Islands Uku and Consider Hawaiʻi Small-Boat Fisheries Management Options (2 September 2020)

News and Updates, Press Releases

The Council’s SSC will consider options to improve effective management of Hawaiʻi small-boat fisheries. Photo: Ed Watamura.

HONOLULU (2 September 2020) Scientists from throughout the Pacific will convene Sept. 9-10, 2020, to discuss fishery management issues and make management recommendations for fisheries in the Western Pacific Region. The meeting of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will be held virtually and is open to the public. The full agenda, background documents and instructions for connecting to the meeting and providing oral public comments are available at www.wpcouncil.org/event/137th-scientific-and-statistical-committee-meeting. Among the agenda items are the following:
 
Main Hawaiian Islands Uku
The SSC will set the acceptable biological catch for the main Hawaiian Islands uku (grey snapper) fishery for fishing years 2022-2025. The best scientific information available for fishery management decisions is the 2020 stock assessment with catch projections to 2026. Based on this information, the maximum sustainable yield is estimated to be 204,972 pounds and the overfishing limit is 301,948 pounds. A panel of fishermen, fishery scientists and managers evaluated the social, ecological, economic and management uncertainties associated with the assessment and quantified a risk level for the SSC to consider.
 
Hawaiʻi Small-Boat Fisheries
Information on Hawaiʻi small-boat fisheries, which does not include the Hawaiʻi longline vessels, is currently insufficient for robust fisheries management. The Council will consider options that include no action, variations on a mandatory permitting and reporting system (including by sector or by species), a registry system and a pilot permit system. The Council held a virtual Fishers Forum and public meeting to discuss these options Aug. 27, 2020. The SSC will hear a report about the public meeting and an analysis of the options and may choose to recommend one for Council consideration.
 
Oceanic Whitetip Sharks
The SSC will hear a report on population projections for the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) stock of oceanic whitetip sharks, a species that was overfished per a 2019 assessment and listed under the Endangered Species Act. Population projections for the stock assess the impact of internationally implemented conservation and management measures since 2013 (which prohibit shark retention and ban the use of “shark lines”) and are based on expected catches throughout the Pacific. The projections use updated estimates of post-release mortality. The SSC may make recommendations on the projections and report.
 
North Pacific Striped Marlin
Following a Council recommendation on phased catch reductions for striped marlin, the SSC will also review and may make recommendations on a rebuilding plan for North Pacific striped marlin and allocations of international catch limits. The stock has been internationally overfished per a 2019 stock assessment. The Council is required to address relative impacts of domestic fisheries and international overfishing per the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Approximately 6% of reported North Pacific striped marlin landings since 1975 is attributed to U.S. Pacific fisheries, including the Hawaiʻi longline fishery.
 
Recommendations made by the SSC on these and other matters will be considered by the Council when it meets Sept. 14-17, 2020, virtually with host sites at Cliff Pointe, 304 W. O’Brien Dr., Hagatna, Guam; Hyatt Regency Saipan, Royal Palm Ave., Micro Beach Rd., Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and Department of Port Administration, Airport Conference Room, Pago Pago International Airport, Tafuna Village, American Samoa. Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agendas and briefing documents will be posted at www.wpcouncil.org/meetings-calendars. Host sites are subject to local and federal safety and health guidelines regarding COVID-19; check the Council website for updates.
 
Scientific and Statistical Committee: James Lynch (K&L Gates, LLP) (chair); Debra Cabrera (University of Guam); Frank Camacho (University of Guam); Milani Chaloupka (University of Queensland); Erik Franklin (University of Hawaiʻi, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology); Shelton Harley (Minister of Fisheries, NZ); Jason Helyer (Hawaiʻi Division of Aquatic Resources); Ray Hilborn (University of Washington); Justin Hospital (National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Fishery Science Center (PIFSC)); David Itano (fisheries consultant); Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Steve Martell (SeaState, Inc.); Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa Dept. of Marine and Wildlife Resources); Graham Pilling (Secretariat of the Pacific Community); Kurt Schaefer (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission); Craig Severance (University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, retired); Michael Tenorio (CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife); and Michael Seki (ex-officio) (NMFS PIFSC).
 
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawaiʻi governors: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Michael Dueñas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Howard Dunham, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawaiʻi) (vice chair); Monique Amani, business owner (Guam); Roger Dang, Fresh Island Fish Co. (Hawaiʻi); and McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Anthony Benavente, CNMI Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources; Suzanne Case, Hawaiʻi Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Chelsa Muña-Brecht, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; and 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): Michael Brakke, U.S. Dept. of State; Brian Peck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and RADM Matthew Sibley, USCG 14th District. 

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