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Press Release – Federal Managers Finalize Turtle Interaction Measures with Hawai’i Swordfish Fishery (9 August 2019)

Loggerhead sea turtle. Photo courtesy NMFS.

HONOLULU (9 August 2019) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council met yesterday to amend the Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan with revisions to the loggerhead and leatherback turtle mitigation measures for the Hawai’i shallow-set longline fishery. The amendment sets an annual fleet-wide hard cap limit on the number of leatherback turtle interactions at 16. An interaction occurs whenever a sea turtle becomes hooked or entangled in longline gear. Few interactions lead to serious injury or mortality of the animal, which is normally released unharmed. The Council did not recommend setting an annual fleet-wide hard cap for loggerheads in light of that species’ improving population trends and other mitigation measures, but the Council retains the authority to set a hard cap limit in the future if necessary.
 
To limit the impact of interactions on sea turtles and to promote year-round fishing opportunities, the Council further recommended the establishment of individual trip interaction limits of five loggerheads and two leatherback turtles. Once a vessel reaches either of these trip limits, the vessel is required to return to port, and will be prohibited from engaging in shallow-set longline fishing for five days after returning. This action is expected to allow sea turtle “hot spots” to disperse, while encouraging fishermen to take action to avoid sea turtle interactions before the trip limits are reached.
 
Additional restrictions set trip limits on each vessel – any vessel that reaches the trip limit twice for either leatherback or loggerhead sea turtles in a calendar year will be prohibited from shallow-set longline fishing for the remainder of that year. The following calendar year, these vessels will have an annual vessel limit equivalent to a single trip limit – either five loggerheads or two leatherbacks. These additional vessel restrictions are measures required under a new biological opinion (BiOp) prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
 
In the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee report, the Committee noted that in light of the BiOp finding that the fishery does not jeopardize the continued existence of these sea turtles, the additional restrictions are punitive and are not supported by the scientific information that the fishery has no adverse impacts to the overall loggerhead and leatherback populations.
 
NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto reminded the Council that it is their “mandate to minimize interactions with protected species…minimize means approach zero.”
 
“You’ve heard the expression barking up the wrong tree – we’re swimming in the wrong ocean,” said Council member Ed Watamura, pointing to the disproportionate impact that the Hawai’i fleet experiences from the US government’s strict regulations. With almost 100 percent of the incidentally hooked turtles returning to the ocean alive, the Hawai’i swordfish fishery has had negligible impact on the leatherback and loggerhead turtle populations in the Pacific Ocean, especially when considering the relative impacts from foreign fleets. Threats to loggerhead and leatherback turtles in other parts of the populations’ range include bycatch in artisanal and coastal fisheries in the Western Pacific, direct harvesting of eggs and adult turtles, nest predation by feral animals, beach nesting habitat alteration, and climate change.
 
The Council did not recommend setting a fleet-wide interaction limit for loggerhead turtles, recognizing that the status of the population has improved since the Council first recommended implementing hard caps for the shallow-set longline fishery in 2004. A recent population assessment of the North Pacific loggerhead turtles showed that the population is growing at an annual rate of 2.4 percent, and the total is estimated at 340,000 individuals. Considering this population growth and the additional restrictions on trip limits, the Council found that the fleet-wide hard cap limit for loggerhead turtles is no longer necessary or appropriate to conserve the species.
 
Final action taken yesterday by the Council was a culmination of a nearly two-year process to improve measures for managing loggerhead and leatherback turtle interactions in the fishery that produces nearly half of the US domestic swordfish. The process was stalled for nearly a year due to NMFS’ delay in completing the new BiOp, which was originally scheduled to be completed in October 2018. The Council’s final recommendation will be forwarded to the Secretary of Commerce, followed by a rule making process including a public comment period.
 
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters of Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands.
 
For the meeting agenda and background materials, go to www.wpcouncil.org or contact the Council at info@wpcouncil.org or (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: Archie Soliai, StarKist (American Samoa) (chair); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, Hawaii Goes Fishing (Hawai'i) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai'i); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai'i); McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Raymond Roberto, 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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Press Release – Federal Managers to Make Final Recommendations on Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtle Interactions with Hawai’i Swordfish Fishery (6 August 2019)

Leatherback sea turtle. Photo courtesy USFWS.

HONOLULU (6 August 2019) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will meet on Aug. 8, 2019, to consider final recommendations on the management of the Hawai’i swordfish fishery’s interactions with leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provided a final biological opinion (BiOp) during the 178th Council meeting in June 2019 (originally due October 2018), but the Council deferred action at the time to allow adequate time to review the final BiOp.

The final BiOp determined that the swordfish fishery is not jeopardizing the continued existence of these sea turtles and authorizes the accidental hooking and subsequent release of 21 leatherbacks and 36 loggerheads. Based on observer data since 1994, 100 percent of leatherback turtles and over 99 percent of loggerhead turtles observed in this fishery have been released alive with a high chance of survival. Despite finding that the impacts of the fishery are not expected to appreciably reduce these two populations’ likelihood of surviving and recovering in the wild, the final BiOp requires additional measures to further reduce incidental captures and mortalities. Specifically, if the fleetwide leatherback interaction reaches the “hard cap” of 16, the BiOp requires that the fishery be closed for the remainder of the calendar year.

The final BiOp also requires implementing individual trip limits of two leatherback or five loggerhead interactions per vessel per trip. However, once a vessel reaches a trip limit twice in a year, it will be prohibited from shallow-set fishing for the remainder of the year, and the vessel will be subject to an annual vessel limit of 2 leatherbacks or 5 loggerheads for the following year. There is no hard cap required in the new BiOp for loggerhead turtles, which has a stable and increasing population.

Over the last five years in the North Pacific Ocean, approximately 99 million hooks were deployed overall in shallow-set longline fisheries annually (reported by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission). Of those, on average 1.2 million hooks (about 1 percent) are deployed annually by the Hawai’i-based shallow-set longline fishery.

“We know what the US shallow-set longline fishing impacts are on loggerheads and leatherbacks in the Pacific due to our 100 percent observer coverage,” remarked Council Chairman Archie Soliai. “When other countries are struggling to meet the internationally-required 5 percent observer coverage, how much confidence do we have about the loggerhead and leatherback impacts for the remaining 98 million hooks set?”

The Council’s recommendation from its 177th meeting in April 2019 was to manage the fishery under annual fleetwide hard cap limits of 16 leatherbacks and 36 loggerheads. The Council initially put the hard caps in place in 2004 as a backup measure when new bait and gear changes were implemented, which, along with other measures, reduced interactions by about 90 percent. The Council also recommended individual trip interaction limits of two leatherbacks and five loggerheads. Once either limit is reached, the vessel would be required to immediately return to port, after which they may resume shallow-set fishing. The original Council recommendations were much simpler and did not include additional vessel restrictions.

The Council will take all information into account, including the measures required under the final BiOp, when it considers final action this week.

The Council’s Hawai‘i Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan Advisory Panel (AP) and Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will meet on Aug. 7, 2019, in advance of the Council meeting to discuss recommendations to the Council for the final action on managing loggerhead and leatherback sea turtle interactions in the Hawai’i-based shallow-set longline fishery.

The AP, SSC and Council meetings can be attended remotely by web conference at: https://wprfmc.webex.com/join/info.wpcouncilnoaa.gov. The Council office will also serve as a meeting host site: 1164 Bishop Street, Suite 1400, Honolulu, Hawai’i. Council meeting documents available on our website (www.wpcouncil.org) include the Federal Register notice, Council meeting agenda, a summary of the action item, a draft amendment to the Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan, and the full Endangered Species Act BiOp from NMFS.

 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); Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, commercial fisherman (American Samoa) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Michael Duenas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); Dean Sensui, Hawaii Goes Fishing (Hawai’i) (vice chair); Michael Goto, United Fishing Agency (Hawai’i); Edwin Watamura, Waialua Boat Club (Hawai’i); McGrew Rice, charter boat captain (CNMI). Designated state officials: Raymond Roberto, 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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Press Release – Council Responds to Honolulu Civil Beat Series, Acts on Hawai’i Fisheries and Protected Species (26 June 2019)

Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds (center) with (from left) Chair Archie Soliai and Vice Chairs John Gourley (CNMI), Dean Sensui (Hawai’i) and Michael Duenas (Guam).

HONOLULU (26 June 2019) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council yesterday in Honolulu responded to the Honolulu Civil Beat‘s three-part series suggesting members of the Council’s Executive Committee engaged in decision-making for self-profit.

Vice Chair John Gourley (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or CNMI) said the Civil Beat articles implied that funding he received from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund for fish biosampling continued after he became a Council member. Honolulu Civil Beat statements about Gourley were included in a section titled “Conflicts of Interest.” Gourley said he received no such funding after he became a Council member and there was no conflict of interest. He said he feels Civil Beat has possibly damaged his reputation and that of his environmental consulting business.


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HI DLNR Press Release – FOUR BOTTOMFISH RESTRICTED FISHING AREAS WILL RE-OPEN JULY 1st (June 20, 2019)

 

DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

DAVID Y. IGE
GOVERNOR

SUZANNE D. CASE
CHAIRPERSON

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2019

 

FOUR BOTTOMFISH RESTRICTED FISHING AREAS WILL RE-OPEN JULY 1st


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FR notice – Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measures; Main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish (March 12, 2019)

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY: This proposed rule would establish an annual catch limit (ACL) of 492,000 lb for Deep 7 bottomfish in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) for each of the three fishing years 2018–19, 2019– 20, and 2020–21. If NMFS projects that the fishery will reach the ACL in any given fishing year, NMFS would close the commercial and non-commercial fisheries for MHI Deep 7 bottomfish in Federal waters for the remainder of the fishing year as an accountability measure (AM). This proposed rule would also make housekeeping changes to the Federal bottomfish fishing regulations. The proposed rule supports the long-term sustainability of Deep 7 bottomfish.
DATES: NMFS must receive comments by April 11, 2019.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by
NOAA–NMFS–2018–0121, by either of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2018-0121, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Send written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

Instructions: NMFS may not consider comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). NMFS prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) that describes the potential impacts on the human environment that could result from the proposed action. The draft EA and other supporting documents are available at www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brett Schumacher, NMFS PIRO
Sustainable Fisheries, 808–725–5185.

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Request for Comments – Request to Repeal, Four of the existing Main Hawaiian Islands Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas (COMMENTS DUE by Jan. 11, 2019)

REQUEST TO REPEAL, FOUR OF THE EXISTING MAIN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
BOTTOMFISH RESTRICTED FISHING AREAS

The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is taking a conservative approach and is proposing to repeal four of the 12 BRFAs. To determine which BRFAs to repeal, DAR considered several factors which include: habitat value, fishery return, enforceability, safety, a DAR initiated survey that solicited the opinion of registered bottomfishers, and recommendations by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. Another major factor considered was equity for fishing opportunity at the county level. Based on the factors considered, DAR recommends repealing the following BRFAs: BRFA C (Poipu, Kauai County), BRFA F (Penguin Banks, Honolulu County), BRFA J (Hana, Maui County), and BRFA L (Leleiwi, Hawaii Island).
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Press Release – Scientists Support Electronic Reporting for Hawaii Longline Fishery, Comment on Proposed Increase in Fishery’s Bigeye Quota (October 18, 2018)

HONOLULU (18 October 2018) Scientists from throughout the Pacific concluded their three-day meeting yesterday in Hilo on the island of Hawai‘i recommending that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council take initial action to require mandatory electronic reporting for the Hawaii longline fleet. These and other recommendations by the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) on federally managed fisheries of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands will be considered by the Council at its 174th meeting to be held Oct. 23 and 24 in Saipan, CNMI, and Oct. 26 and 27 in Guam. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the Council has authority over fisheries seaward of state waters in Hawaii and other US Pacific Islands.
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2019 Hawaii Lunar calendar

2019 Kaulana Mahina (Hawaiian Lunar) Calendar (printable PDF version)

Links to the Hawaiian Lunar Calendar youtube videos
⇓⇓⇓(Click on the pictures below)⇓⇓⇓
Cover

About this Calendar ‘Okakopa (October 2018)
Nowemapa
(November 2018)
Kēkēmapa
(December 2018)
‘Ianuali
(January 2019)
Pepeluali
(February 2019)
Malaki
(March 2019)
‘Apelila
(April 2019)
Mei (May 2019) Iune (June 2019) Iulai (July 2019)
‘Aukake
(August 2019)
Kepakemapa (September 2019) ‘Okakopa
(October 2019)
Nowemapa
(November 2019)
Kēkēmapa
(December 2019)
About the Council
About the Contributors
About the YWCA About the YWCA O’ahu Fernhurst Residence
For complete video, click on the image below