Press Release – Council Reviews Annual Fishery Reports: Trends, Challenges and Future Plans in the Western Pacific (25 June 2024)

News and Updates, Press Releases

HONOLULU (25 June 2024) Council members reviewed detailed reports on the 2023 performance of federally managed fisheries in the Western Pacific region. This annual Stock Assessment and Fisheries Evaluation (SAFE) report consistently observed catch increases across a range of open ocean and bottomfish species, continued high fuel prices, shark depredation and increased sea surface temperature across the U.S. Pacific Islands.

This report is developed by the Council’s archipelagic and pelagic plan teams, comprised of federal, territorial, state and Council scientists.

Highlights from the region include:

  • Hawai‘i: Commercial landings for bottomfish were up at 242,170 pounds. None of the bottomfish are overfished or experiencing overfishing. There were 576 bottomfish license holders, 37 less than in 2022.
  • American Samoa: Albacore tuna catch was 1.9 million pounds from 10 boats in the longline fishery, down from 2.37 million pounds from 11 boats in 2022.
  • Guam: Total bottomfish catch for the 13-species complex was below the annual limit set at 31,000 pounds. A recent stock assessment indicates the complex is no longer considered overfished.
  • CNMI: The 2023 report of fishermen’s catch reports and commercial dealer invoices is in review.

For the 2024 annual SAFE report, key fishery and market indicators will be included, such as impacts from military activities, weather conditions, and funding and staffing issues, as well as fishery-independent data in Guam and Hawai‘i. Council advisors are working on ways to improve data collection. The Annual SAFE Report data for 2023 will soon be available at

For fishing years 2024-2027 for the Hawaiian Islands deep-seven bottomfish complex, the Council recommended the annual catch limit (ACL) to be 493,000 pounds. This ACL results in a 39% risk of overfishing. The fishery is healthy and total catch in recent years has been around 200,000 pounds. With this increase in quota, fishers are able to operate year-round without fear of the fishery closing. Accountability measures include in-season monitoring and a single year post-season overage adjustment. License holders are required to report their bottomfish catch within five days of their fishing trip.

On Hawai‘i’s bottomfish ACL, Council member from Guam Manny Dueñas commented, “It’s the honest to God truth – the fisheries are healthy! More people should go fishing!”

In 2023, 359 deep-seven bottomfish license holders each caught an average of 550 pounds, totaling about 200,000 pounds. With the remaining ACL, this means that potentially up to 530 more people could enter the fishery.

Part of the mission of NOAA’s National Seafood Strategy supports productive and sustainable fisheries. NOAA should assist young people to go fishing in our region.

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council: Secretary of Commerce appointees from nominees selected by American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam and Hawai‘i governors: Will Sword, noncommercial fisherman/engineer (American Samoa) (chair); Roger Dang, Fresh Island Fish Co. (Hawai‘i) (vice chair); Manny Dueñas, Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Assn. (Guam) (vice chair); Judith Guthertz, University of Guam (Guam); Pete Itibus, noncommercial fisher (CNMI); Shaelene Kamaka‘ala, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (Hawai‘i); Matt Ramsey, Conservation International (Hawai‘i); and Gene Weaver, Tasi to Table (CNMI). Designated state officials: Dawn Chang, Hawai‘i Dept. of Land & Natural Resources; Sylvan Igisomar, CNMI Dept. of Lands & Natural Resources (vice chair); Chelsa Muña, Guam Dept. of Agriculture; and Archie Soliai, American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources (vice chair). Designated federal officials (voting): Sarah Malloy (acting), NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (nonvoting): Colin Brinkman, U.S. State Dept.; Brian Peck, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; and RADM Michael Day, U.S. Coast Guard 14th District.