Press Release – Scientists Recommend Improved Mitigation Measures for Protected Species (30 November 2020)
HONOLULU (30 November 2020) Scientists overwhelmingly supported a proposal from the Hawaii Longline Association (HLA) to voluntarily switch to monofilament leaders to promote protected species conservation. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council expressed this support on the first day of its two-day virtual meeting.
The Hawaiʻi longline fishery uses wire leaders to prevent gear flyback, an unintended consequence of using required weighted branch lines. While many protected species are released alive, long trailing gear impacts their survival. Changing to monofilament nylon from wire leaders allows the crew to remove most of the trailing gear.
The SSC heard a proactive proposal from the HLA that provides significant positive impacts on survival probabilities of oceanic whitetip sharks, leatherback turtles and other protected species. The gear changes, combined with handling procedure improvements, crew training and research, demonstrate the industry’s leadership to minimize protected species interactions.
The SSC recommended that the Council consider measures in the HLA proposal for further development under the Pacific Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Council action at a future meeting. During public comment, Dave Gershman from The Ocean Foundation praised the HLA proposal and urged the SSC to support the initiative and pursue research to promote species recovery.
The SSC also recommended a phased-in approach to minimize impacts of U.S. fishing on North Pacific striped marlin through reduced catch limits. The approach is to establish a catch limit through 2024 using best scientific information available (BSIA) to attribute a portion from a total allowable catch (from all fleets) that would end overfishing in the first year. Despite having a 6% contribution to the historical depletion of the stock, the United States is taking unilateral action towards ending overfishing by fulfilling its Magnuson-Stevens Act (Section 304(i)) obligation.
Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agenda and briefing documents are posted at www.wpcouncil.org/meetings-calendars. To read the full HLA proposal, visit https://bit.ly/3ocuOwU.