Press Release – Western Pacific Fishery Council Advisors to Evaluate Seabird Conservation Measures (09 Sept. 2021)

News and Updates, Press Releases

HONOLULU (09 September 2021) Scientists will meet Sept. 14 to 16, 2021, to provide advice and comments to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on domestic seabird conservation measures, Hawai‘i area-based management efforts, proposed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other topics. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) meeting will be held virtually and is open to the public. The full agenda, background documents and instructions for connecting to the meeting and providing oral public comments are available at Among the agenda items are the following:

Potential Revisions for Seabird Conservation Measures
The Council is evaluating using tori lines, or bird scaring lines, as part of a suite of mitigation measures that help the Hawai‘i longline fishery avoid hooking seabirds. Two field trials to develop and test tori lines in the deep-set longline fishery were conducted in 2019-2021 under a cooperative research project between the Council, Hawaii Longline Association and National Marine Fisheries Service. The studies show that tori lines are significantly more effective in preventing longline gear interactions with black-footed and Laysan albatrosses than an existing method of using blue-dyed bait. The SSC will review results from the latest study completed during summer 2021 and may provide advice to the Council on the management action to modify the current conservation measures.
Report on Recently Opened Hawai‘i Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas
The Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) will present an interim report of data from fishermen who fished in the four reopened areas—Kaua‘i (BRFA C), Penguin Bank (BRFA F), Maui (BRFA J) and Hawai‘i (BRFA L). The Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources recommended that DAR monitor the fishery performance in these areas and report back in January 2022. The SSC may provide recommendations to improve the preliminary analysis to support DAR in their report and comment on the utility (or lack thereof) of retaining the BRFAs.
Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization Amendments
Two comprehensive bills were recently introduced in the Congress that would amend the MSA. The SSC may comment on several provisions that would affect the committee. These include coordinating with NOAA on multi-year research priorities that should address climate change impacts on fisheries and on forage fish populations and distribution, and the requirement to have an audio/video recording or written transcript of the SSC meeting. The SSC may also provide advice on individual provisions on fish stock status, maintaining the abundance and diversity of forage fish and criteria for determining whether a stock is depleted.
The SSC will also hear a review of impacts from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument expansion and may discuss alternative area-based management actions.
Recommendations made by the SSC on these and other matters will be considered by the Council when it meets Sept. 21-23, 2021, virtually with host sites at Tedi of Samoa Building, Suite 208B, Fagatogo Village, American Samoa; BRI Building, Suite 205, Kopa Di Oru St., Garapan, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and Cliff Pointe, 304 W. O’Brien Dr., Hagatña, Guam. Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agendas and briefing documents are posted at Host sites are subject to local and federal safety and health guidelines regarding COVID-19; check the Council website for updates.
Scientific and Statistical Committee: James Lynch (Sierra Pacific Industries) (chair); Debra Cabrera (University of Guam); Frank Camacho (University of Guam); Milani Chaloupka (University of Queensland); Erik Franklin (University of Hawai‘i, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology); Jay Gutierrez (Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources); Shelton Harley (Minister of Fisheries, NZ); Jason Helyer (Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources); Ray Hilborn (University of Washington); Justin Hospital (National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) PIFSC); David Itano (fisheries consultant); Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Steve Martell (SeaState, Inc.); Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources); Graham Pilling (Secretariat of the Pacific Community); Kurt Schaefer (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission); Craig Severance (University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, retired); Michael Tenorio (CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife); and Michael Seki (ex-officio) (NMFS PIFSC).
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): Charles Brinkman and Rebecca Wintering, U.S. Dept. of State; Brian Peck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and RADM Matthew Sibley, U.S. Coast Guard 14th District.