Press Release – WP Scientists to Advise Fishery Management Council on HI and Guam Bottomfish (08 March 2024)

News and Updates, Press Releases

HONOLULU (8 March 2024) Scientific advisors to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will meet March 12-14, 2024, to provide advice and guidance on the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) deep-seven bottomfish and Guam bottomfish fishery stock assessments, among other topics.

The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) meeting is open to in-person or remote participation via web conference for attendees. The full agenda, background documents and instructions for connecting to the meeting and providing oral public comments are available at

MHI Deep-Seven Bottomfish Assessment

The SSC will discuss and evaluate a new benchmark stock assessment model for the MHI bottomfish fishery. The Council’s Hawai‘i Fishery Ecosystem Plan encompasses seven bottomfish species, managed as a species complex. The stock in 2023 is not overfished or undergoing overfishing, similar to the 2018 benchmark and 2021 update assessments. The new model uses estimates of harvest rate, annual biomass and other parameters to define the stock status relative to reference points.

The SSC will review a report and recommendations from a 2023 Western Pacific Stock Assessment Review (WPSAR) panel and may provide feedback to determine whether the new stock assessment represents the best scientific information available (BSIA). If appropriate, the Council will proceed with developing new annual catch limits (ACLs) for fishing years 2025-2029 based on the outcomes. The catch limit for the fishing year September 2023 to August 2024 is 492,000 pounds.

Guam Bottomfish Assessment

Similar to Hawai‘i, the SSC will review the 2024 updated stock assessment for 13 Guam bottomfish management unit species (BMUS) to recommend annual catches for fishing years 2024-2029. The Guam bottomfish fishery is operating under a rebuilding plan and associated ACL of 31,000 pounds. This is based on a 2017 benchmark stock assessment that concluded the stock complex was overfished, but not experiencing overfishing. The SSC will review a report and recommendations from the WPSAR panel and determine if the latest assessment should be considered BSIA for management action. Information from the 2024 report suggests BMUS in Guam were not overfished or experiencing overfishing in 2023.

The SSC will consider and may provide feedback on WPSAR Terms of Reference for a bottomfish data review to be held in July 2024.

The SSC will also receive an update on an upcoming survey aimed at filling data gaps for false killer whales outside of the U.S. exclusive economic zone. The members will revisit discussions on scientific approaches for managing the pelagic stock of the species.

Recommendations made by the SSC on these and other matters will be considered by the Council when it meets March 18-20 at the Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom in Honolulu. Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agendas and briefing documents are posted at

Scientific and Statistical Committee: James Lynch (chair); Jason Biggs (Guam Div. 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 Div. of Aquatic Resources); Ray Hilborn (University of Washington); Justin Hospital (National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center); Dave Itano (Fisheries Consultant); Donald Kobayashi (NMFS PIFSC); Steve Martell (Sea State Inc.); Domingo Ochavillo (American Samoa Dept. of Marine & Wildlife Resources); Graham Pilling (The Pacific Community); Craig Severance (University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, retired); Francisco Villagomez (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Div. of Fish & Wildlife); Charles Littnan (ex-officio) (NMFS PIFSC).

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, CNMI Judiciary (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.