The Council’s Archipelagic and Pelagic Plan Teams coordinated with the National Marine Fisheries Service and local resource managers to develop the reports for each island area, which include ecosystem considerations and other factors that could drive fishery dynamics.
2021 Report Highlights
Total landings from the Hawaii and American Samoa longline fleets dominated the Pacific Islands pelagic fisheries. Tuna species were the main catch across the region, with increases in landings for skipjack and yellowfin tuna in the Mariana Islands, South Pacific albacore and yellowfin tuna in American Samoa, and yellowfin tuna in Hawai‘i. Bigeye tuna remains the primary target of the Hawai‘i deep-set longline fishery, with an approximately 5% decrease in total landings relative to 2020 – down to about 16 million pounds. Despite the slight decrease in deep-set landings, total revenue for Hawai‘i pelagic commercial fisheries rebounded 49% to $124.4 million in 2021, after decreasing 22% to $83.4 million in 2020 due to COVID-19-related restrictions and market instability.
Fishery performance for managed bottomfish species was mixed across areas. Total estimated catch in the Mariana Islands substantially increased, likely due to an increase in fishing effort. The CNMI bottomfish fishery landed 74,885 pounds (up from 45,583 in 2020), and Guam’s bottomfish fishery caught 54,221 pounds – the second highest annual value in 40 years of available data.
Commercial fishers harvesting the Hawai‘i Deep-7 bottomfish complex slightly increased both their number of trips (14%) and catches (13%), driven by onaga and ehu. Annual catch and revenue for the uku fishery also increased, despite a less than 10% reduction in effort.
The American Samoa bottomfish fishery continued its notable decline with a total estimated catch of 2,215 pounds in 2021, which is among the lowest annual values since data collection started in 1986. This reduction in catch is likely associated with decreased effort. COVID-19-related issues also affected bottomfish fishermen in the territory, such as vendors not buying due to increased prices, loss of crew to Apia, Samoa, and pelagic and imported bottomfish being cheaper in the market.
Fishers continued to adapt to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, including a decrease in market demand and high fishing expenses. Some fishers reported selling their catch through informal channels such as roadside vendors. The 2021 SAFE Reports also provide information about impacts and the subsequent recovery associated with the pandemic, including rebounds in tourism and employment rates, which can indirectly influence fishery performance.
Reports will continue to improve by incorporating non-commercial fisheries data modules for each island area and refining bycatch data summaries. Additional highlights from the reports can be found at www.wpcouncil.org/status-of-the-fisheries-2020-21
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, CNMI, Guam and Hawai‘i governors: Roger Dang, Fresh Island Fish Co. (Hawai‘i) (vice chair); Manny Dueñas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (Guam) (vice chair); John Gourley, Micronesian Environmental Services (CNMI) (vice chair); Will Sword, noncommercial fisherman/engineer (American Samoa) (vice chair); Monique Amani, business owner (Guam); Howard Dunham, commercial fisherman (American Samoa); Matt Ramsey, Conservation International (Hawai‘i); and 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; and Archie Soliai, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources (chair). Designated federal officials (voting): Michael Tosatto, NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (nonvoting): Colin Brinkman, U.S. Dept. of State; Brian Peck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and RADM Matthew Sibley, U.S. Coast Guard 14th District.