Press Release: Western Pacific Scientists to Discuss NWHI Fishing Regulations and Longline Fishery Interaction Studies Next Week (23 November 2022)

News and Updates, Press Releases

HONOLULU (23 November 2022) Scientists from throughout the Western Pacific Region will meet Nov. 29 to 30, 2022, to provide advice and comments to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on the fishing regulations in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), fishery interaction studies and analyses with species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), an assessment of area-based management areas in the United States and other topics.

The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will meet virtually via web conference. The full agenda, background documents and instructions for connecting to the meeting and providing oral public comments are available at www.wpcouncil.org/event/146th-scientific-and-statistical-committee-virtual-meeting.

Fishing Regulations in the NWHI
At its 193rd meeting in December, the Council will take action on fishing regulations in the NWHI Monument Expansion Area (MEA). Presidential Proclamation 9478 that established the MEA in 2016 authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to manage noncommercial fishing consistent with the overall objectives of the area. The SSC will consider a report from community meetings held in November around the main Hawaiian Islands to gather feedback from the public regarding definitions for subsistence fishing. The SSC may provide the Council with advice and recommendations on refined fishing regulation alternatives.

False Killer Whale and Hawai‘i Deep-Set Longline Fishery Interaction Studies
The SSC will discuss outcomes from the FKW Take Reduction Team that met in November 2022 to review implications of the latest FKW interaction studies, assess the effectiveness of the current plan and brainstorm potential modifications to management measures. The Council is a member of the Team, formed under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to reduce impacts to FKWs that are accidentally hooked or entangled in the Hawai‘i deep-set longline fishery. Most FKWs are released alive, but MMPA guidelines assume the animals may become seriously injured if they are released with the hook in the mouth or trailing line.

The Team formed working groups to refine options for gear modifications and handling guidance, and to develop a fighting line/cutter device, among other topics, in preparation for a follow up meeting in March 2023. The SSC may advise the Council on potential management measures considered by the Team in preparation for its next meeting in March 2023.

ESA Section 7 Consultations
The SSC will review information presented in the final supplemental biological opinions (BiOps) for the Hawai‘i deep-set longline fishery and American Samoa longline fishery covering oceanic whitetip sharks and giant manta rays. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issues biological opinions to document its determination on how certain actions affect ESA-listed species and designated critical habitat. NMFS concluded these fisheries are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these two species. The BiOps include measures that require the release of animals caught alive in a manner that minimizes injury and ensures sufficient monitoring and reporting to confirm that the extent of take is not exceeded. The SSC may provide advice to the Council on the BiOp analyses.

Area-Based Management Report
The SSC will discuss a report from the Council Coordination Committee Area-Based Management Subcommittee that was tasked with indexing and evaluating existing Fishery Management Council actions throughout the United States. The assessment was meant to quantify the nation’s progress towards the Biden Administration’s goal to conserve 30% of all U.S. lands and waters by 2030 with its existing marine managed areas. The subcommittee found the majority of the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is conserved relative to environmentally adverse fishing activities. Bottom trawling and/or dredging is prohibited in 75% of the EEZ, and all bottom-tending gear and pelagic fishing gear are restricted in 57% and 55% of the federally managed area, respectively.

Other agenda topics include reviewing a paper inferring spillover benefits of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and discussing ecosystem-based fisheries management priorities in the Pacific Islands Region.

Recommendations made by the SSC on these and other matters will be considered by the Council when it meets Dec. 5-8, 2022, in-person at the Pagoda Hotel. Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agendas and briefing documents are posted at www.wpcouncil.org/event/193rd-council-meeting.

Scientific and Statistical Committee: James Lynch (chair); Jason Biggs (Guam Division of Aquatic & Wildlife Resources); 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); Shelton Harley (Fisheries New Zealand); Jason Helyer (Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources); Ray Hilborn (University of Washington); Justin Hospital (NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)); Dave Itano (Fisheries Consultant); Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Steve Martell (Sea State Inc.); Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources); Graham Pilling (Secretariat of the Pacific Community); Craig Severance (University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, retired); Francisco Villagomez (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Division of Fish & Wildlife); 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); Judith Guthertz, University of Guam (Guam); Shaelene Kamaka‘ala, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (Hawai‘i); 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): Sarah Malloy (acting), NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office. Designated federal officials (nonvoting): Colin Brinkman, U.S. Dept. of State; Brian Peck, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; and RADM Mike Day, U.S. Coast Guard 14th District

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