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.
- WCPO Pacific Strategy Information Paper with Attachments 2022
- Spring 2022 PIFN article – Council Proposes a New Pacific Strategy to Advance US Interests Through Fisheries
- Letter to President Biden, POTUS 30×30 America the Beautiful, June 29, 2022
- Council letter to Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA administrator commenting on EO 14008, March 7, 2022
- March 8, 2022, Letter from Council on the Need for a New Pacific Strategy address to DOS, DOC, DOI, DOD and Homeland Security
- The US House Committee on Natural Resources hearing on “Peace Through Strength: The Strategic Importance of the Pacific Islands to U.S.-led Global Security.”, August 24, 2023.
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 Letter to E. Campbell, USFWS and S. Malloy, PIRO on 5 year review of DPS green sea turtles, July 7, 2023
- Summer 2022 Pacific Islands Fishery News article – Sustainable Take of Sea Turtles: A Global Perspective
- Letter to President Biden on turtle cultural practices and IAC, June 2022
- Winter 2022 PIFN article – Treaty Deadlock: Why an International Treaty with Central and South America Creates a Barrier for Cultural Harvest of Honu in Hawaii
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).
- Fall 2022 PIFN article – Fishing for Information on Regulation in the NWHI
- Summer 2022 PIFN article – The Return of Fishing to the NWHI
- Council NWHI Fisheries web page
- Letter to President Biden on Marine National Monuments, June 2021
- Letter from N. LeBoeuf, ONMS response to Council MEA recommendations, Feb. 22, 2023
- Letter to N. LeBoeuf, NOAA OSCZM with amended recommendations for the fishing regulations for the MEA of the NWHI, Mar. 14, 2023
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 https://www.wpcouncil.org/marine-spatial-management.
- March 27, 2023 – Letter from Territory Governors of American Samoa, CNMI, Guam to POTUS Biden about concerns about the PRIA marine sanctuary proposal
- July 27, 2023, Council Letter to POTUS Biden on US Pacific Territories and PRI Sanctuary
- June 2, 2023, Council Letter to N. LeBoeuf, NOAA NOS comments on the Proposed Designation of a National Marine Sanctuary for PRI
- April 5, 2023 – Council letter to Richard Spinrad, NOAA on the PRIA national marine sanctuary proposal
- August 2022 Pacific Islands Fishery News – Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Expansion Proposal
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.
- Council Coordinating Committee EEJ Working Group Rec’s, October 2022
- Letter to NMFS’s Janet Coit on the Agency’s Draft EEJ Strategy, August 2022
- NMFS – Draft EEJ Strategy
- Spring 2022 PIFN article – WP Council – An Organizational Leader on EEJ
- Spring 2022 PIFN article – Who ARE We in the Western Pacific Region?
- Spring 2022 PIFN article – Progress on President Biden EOs – How Key Depts and Agencies are Building Momentum
- Winter 2022 PIFN article – “Lack of diversity is the enemy of success”