Press Release – Western Pacific Fishery Managers Recommend Improved Seabird Conservation Measures (22 September 2021)
HONOLULU (22 September 2021) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council recommended modifications to a regulatory amendment as an initial action to improve seabird conservation in the Hawai‘i deep-set longline fishery.
A recent tori line study showed that the streamer lines are significantly more effective than blue-dyed fish bait to deter seabirds like Laysan and black-footed albatross from interacting with longline gear. The Council supported using tori lines instead of blue-dyed bait, which is currently required as a seabird interaction mitigation measure implemented under the Council’s Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan. The Council will consider a full analysis to make a final decision at its December 2021 meeting.
In addition, the Council recommended removing strategic offal (fish waste) discards from the regulatory requirement. Discharging offal and spent bait in the ocean away from where fishing gear is set may distract birds in the short-term, but may also increase seabird attraction to fishing vessels over time. The Council also recommended best practices training on offal management be added to the required annual protected species workshop for Hawai‘i commercial fishermen.
“We support this change since blue dye is messy and not always effective,” said Hawaii Longline Association Executive Director Eric Kingma. “Tori lines are extensively used around the world, including fisheries in Alaska, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. They are practical, easy to use and not expensive.”
The Hawai‘i longline fishery has been using seabird conservation measures for more than 20 years and pioneered many of the mitigation measures used internationally in pelagic fisheries.
The Council started discussion today on the American Samoa bottomfish rebuilding plan and will take a final decision tomorrow on the last day of the quarterly meeting. The Council will also decide annual catch limits for the main Hawaiian Islands uku fishery. Instructions on connecting to Webex, agendas and briefing documents are posted at www.wpcouncil.org/meetings-calendars.
The Council manages federal fisheries operating in waters offshore of the State of Hawai‘i, the Territories of American Samoa and Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the U.S. Pacific Remote Islands Areas.
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, National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (nonvoting): Colin 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.