Hot Topics

New Pacific Strategy

Fisheries are critical to the welfare of Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Currently, China is vying for greater influence in the Pacific. With concerns over food security at an all-time high, the importance of fisheries to the people of the Western Pacific Region has never been so apparent. The United States must act now to ensure the prosperity of the U.S. Pacific Islands and protect national interests by strengthening its positions in international fisheries negotiations. Specifically the United States must improve negotiations within the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, where 60% of the global tuna supply is managed.

Green Sea Turtles

Sea turtle harvest may seem like a foreign concept today, especially in the United States where sea turtles have been federally protected under the Endangered Species Act for more than four decades. But across the Pacific Islands and throughout the world, sea turtles have been utilized as important natural and cultural resources for millennia. Today, the legal harvest of sea turtles and their eggs is still allowed in many parts of the world. The Council has recently revisited this long-standing issue of resuming a sustainable level of cultural harvest of green sea turtles in Hawaii and the rest of the U.S. Pacific Islands, recognizing that multiple generations have passed since the last legal take and there is an urgency to pass on the cultural and traditional ecological knowledge before it disappears.

Council Fishing Regulations in the NWHI

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) has been home to fishing for hundreds of years. Since the 1980s, the Council has managed bottomfish, pelagic, precious coral, and crustacean fisheries in the NWHI through regulations on catch, size, vessels and through spatial management such as refuges and a protected species zone. Fishing has been prohibited (0-50 miles from shore) through a Presidential Proclamation since 2006 (PP 8031). In the Monument Expansion Area (50-200 miles from shore, adjacent to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument), the Council is developing an amendment to its Hawai‘i Archipelago Fishery Ecosystem Plan to permit noncommercial fishing and monitoring of the resources (PP 9478, 2016).

PRIA Sanctuary

On March 24, 2023, President Biden directed the Secretary of Commerce to consider initiating the designation process for a proposed national marine sanctuary in the Pacific Remote Islands. NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries launched the designation process in April and held public meetings in May 2023. The Council has expressed its concerns on the unintended consequences of fishing prohibitions within the proposed sanctuary boundaries. It has reiterated the importance of maintaining support for U.S. tuna fisheries in the Pacific and American Samoa’s tuna economy.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument closed all waters from 0 to 200 nautical miles around Wake Atoll, Johnston Atoll and Jarvis Island, and 0 to 50 nm from Palmyra Atoll, Kingman Reef and Howland and Baker Islands. Commercial fishing is prohibited in those waters and non-commercial and recreational charter fishing are allowed with permits and reporting. For more information, visit

Equity and Environmental Justice (EEJ)

Because of our geography and ethnic and cultural diversity in the U.S. Pacific Islands, the Council has documented EEJ issues in its management mission since 1976. However, it has been difficult to address and resolve problems associated with these injustices. President Biden’s 2021 Executive Orders addressing EEJ issues (EO 13985 and EO 14031) have allowed the Council the advantage of working within government agencies to lead discussions and evaluate EEJ in U.S. fisheries management.