Category Archives: Western Pacific

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council seeks to Reopen Papahanaumokuakea to Fishing

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council concluded its three-day meeting in Honolulu with a suite of recommendations, many of which are focused on keeping U.S. fishing grounds open to sustainably managed U.S. fisheries. The council includes the local fishery department directors from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the CNMI, fishing experts appointed by the Governors and federal agencies involved in fishing-related activities. Marine national monuments, national marine sanctuaries, other marine protected area designations and Department of Defense training are among the uses that are increasingly closing off fishing grounds in U.S. waters. Council Chair Edwin A. Ebisui Jr. clarified that council communications to the administration about impacts of marine national monuments on fisheries are not lobbying. Some environmental activists recently made misleading statements about this in regards to a letter to President Trump prepared on March 1, 2017, by the Council Coordination Committee or CCC. The CCC includes the chairs of the nation’s eight regional fishery management councils. The letter details the impact of designations of Marine National Monuments under the Antiquities Act in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and was submitted to the president after conferring with the NOAA Office of General Counsel. To address the impacts of ever increasing fishing grounds being closed, the council agreed to the following: continue reading the story here 06:09

American Samoa wins suit against NMFS over Large Vessel Prohibited Area rule change

American Samoa has won its lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service over the Large Vessel Prohibited Area  rule change. Hawaii Federal District Court Judge, Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi issued her ruling in the Territory of American Samoa’s case against NOAA ruling in favor of the Territory and vacating and setting aside NOAA rule 81 Fed. Reg.  5619 (Feb. 3, 2016) which shrunk the Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA) from 50 to 12 miles. This  allowed long-line vessels larger than 50 feet in length to fish closer to the islands. The Court reached this decision after concluding that NOAA failed to consider the Deeds of Cession. Specifically the Court ruled that, “the Deeds of Cession require the United States to preserve American Samoan cultural fishing practices and that the deeds constitute “any other applicable law” for purposes of the [Magnusson Stevens Act].” continue reading the story here 11:10

Trump policies could mean big boon for Hawaii’s commercial fishermen and the enviro’s are upset!

The debate over fishing regulations at the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is heating up again. The council that helps outline rules for fishing in the federally protected area says it wants to work with the Trump Administration to ease restrictions there, making it easy for Hawaii’s commercial fishermen to work in waters around the monument. Environmental groups are demanding protections remain in place. Some are even calling for an investigation.  The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council – known as Wespac – is meeting at the Ala Moana Hotel through Thursday. At the same venue as the Wespac meeting, a coalition of environmentalists and conservationist came together on Tuesday to challenge the council’s position. Watch the video, read the story here 08:46

Your Winter 2017 Pacific Islands Fishery Newsletter is here!

Aloha, enjoy our new web-friendly newsletter format. Click here to download the entire newsletter as a printable PDF. Or click here to read entire issue online. Some issues included in the newsletter: Thousands of Species Slated for Ecosystem Component Designation, Comprehensive Tuna Management Stymied in the Pacific, Council Director Weighs in on Marine Protected Area Discussion, and others. Click here to read the newsletter 10:10

Rare Hawaiian seal drowns at NOAA-funded fish farm site

An endangered Hawaiian monk seal has died after wandering into a net pen and becoming trapped at a fish farm that was partially funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Hawaii. Officials with NOAA said Thursday the death of the 10-year-old monk seal happened at Blue Ocean Mariculture, the same fish farm that NOAA’s National Marine Fishery Service has been using for research in conjunction with a plan to expand aquaculture into federal waters around the Pacific. Ann Garrett, the service’s assistant regional administrator for protected resources, confirmed the farm was the same one used for the NOAA-funded research, but could not comment further on the agency’s involvement. NOAA is working on a plan to expand aquaculture into federals waters despite concerns by some environmental groups who say the industrial-scale farms could do more harm than good to overall fish stocks and ocean health. continue reading the story here 08:16

Oversight Hearing on Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries Wednesday, March 15, 2017 10:00 AM

Oversight Hearing on: “Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries”  Click here to read the memo  Witnesses and Testimony: Dr. John Bruno Professor, Department of Biology University of North Carolina, Mr. Chett Chiasson Executive Director Greater Lafourche Port Commission,  Mr. Brian Hallman Executive Director American Tunaboat Association, The Honorable Jon Mitchell Mayor City of New Bedford Click here @ 10:00am and listen to the hearing. 19:05

Trump asked to remove all marine monument fishing prohibitions established by the past two administrations

The request is from the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Congressman Rob Bishop, and American Samoa’s Congresswoman Aumua Amata. The letter says prohibitions on commercial fishing in marine monuments, or reserves, has impacted the US fishing fleet as well as forcing one cannery operation in Pago Pago to close. According to the two Republicans, closing US waters to domestic fisheries is federal overreach and obstructs well managed, sustainable US fishing industries in favour of foreign counterparts. The letter says over half of US waters in the Pacific have been closed to commercial fishing by a stroke of the pen without specific evidence, socioeconomic analysis, or a deliberative and public process. Link 08:10

Questions raised about Coast Guard armed boarding

Pago Pago – Some new information is emerging about the Coast Guard operation in which the purse seiner Jeanette was boarded by armed Coast Guard personnel at the main dock late last week, Bill Sardinha, whose company Sardinha & Cileu Management, provides services for the Jeanette said in an email to KHJ News, the Jeanette came into port on its own, and not ordered to return as we reported. He said a helicopter pilot on board has fallen ill and this required the vessel o return to Am Samoa for medical care Sardinha explained that the Jeanette was required to notify the US Coast in advance 96 hours, less if an emergency or if circumstance warrants exception, an illness qualifies. So the Coast Guard was well aware of its arrival. Sardinha reports that upon entering port on February 23rd, the Jeanette was surprised to find US government agents waiting to board the vessel with guns. He said the agents boarded the vessel, posted guards, isolated the crew and interrogated them for 12 hours. continue reading the story here 21:50

American Samoa: Coast Guard comments on armed boarding of purse seiner Jeanette

As we reported this morning, armed Coast Guard agents who arrived on a C-130 aircraft boarded the purse seine Jeanette apparently looking for drugs. The Jeanette had been out at sea but was ordered to return to port. A fishing boat owner who was at the dock said that friends on the Jeanette said the agents were looking for drugs but didnt find any. More than half a dozen Coast Guard men from Honolulu were involved in the operation. Lt. Kevin Whalen, head of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Unit in Pago Pago, sought permission from Coast Guard Public Affairs in Honolulu to respond to our questions about the operation. This is the statement he was authorized to give KHJ News: “The Coast Guard was engaged in an active law enforcement in American Samoa. “It is the policy and standard practice of the Coast Guard to conduct law enforcement boardings, armed. The Coast Guard is committed to public safety.” Link 14:24

National Marine Fisheries Service Policy Directive – Catch Share Policy

PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is to encourage well-designed catch share programs to help maintain or rebuild fisheries, and sustain fishermen, communities and vibrant working waterfronts, including the cultural and resource access traditions that have been part of this country since its founding.  DEFINITION “Catch share” is a general term for several fishery management strategies that allocate a specific portion of the total allowable fishery catch to individuals, cooperatives, communities, or other entities. Each recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its exclusive allocation is reached. The term includes specific programs defined in law such as “limited access privilege” (LAP) and “individual fishing quota” (IFQ) programs, and other exclusive allocative measures such as Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) that grant an exclusive privilege to Continue reading this here 15:50

Stunned chopper pilot finds castaways lost at sea on two seperate boats from Kiribati

The pilot, operating the chopper from a trawler off the Marshall Islands, came across the boats by chance last week, leading to the rescue of three fishermen and a teenage boy, the Marshall Islands Journal reported. It said both boats had set off from Kiribati, about 650 kilometres (400 miles) away. The one with three fishermen aboard had been adrift for 28 days, while the lone 14-year-old in the other had been lost for 11 days. Ocean currents had brought both boats within eight kilometres of each other but they were unaware of the other’s existence until they were spotted and rescued. The trawler Kwila888 picked up the drifters and cut short its tuna fishing trip to drop them in the Marshalls’ capital Majuro last weekend, the Journal reported. Link 15:53

Hawaii bill would ban licenses for some foreign fishermen

A bill in the Hawaii Legislature aims to change rules for how fishing licenses are issued to foreign crew members that make up the majority of the state’s commercial fleet. Now, boat owners or captains bring foreign crew members’ passports and customs documents to a state agency to get their licenses – without the fishermen present. A federal legal loophole allows foreign fishermen to work off the coast of Hawaii, but they are technically not allowed to enter the country. The bill would require anyone seeking a commercial fishing license in Hawaii to appear in person. State Sen. Karl Rhoads says he wants to change the law so people who are not permitted to enter the U.S. cannot get a license to fish on American-flagged boats sailing from Honolulu. The Hawaii Longline Association opposed the bill, saying the industry is already regulated and additional requirements are unnecessary. Read the story here  16:00

Saving the whales – 19th-century hunting techniques now used to help, not kill humpbacks

To save whales tangled in netting and debris, rescuers take a page right out of the 1850s whale-hunting playbook. To catch and kill the animals, 19th-century whalers would harpoon the creatures, add a barrel to the line to slow and force them to surface. Then they’d lance captured whales and let them bleed out. Now, rescuers follow similar but nonviolent steps — tossing a hook to catch the debris on a whale, adding a buoy to slow it and using a knife rigged on a pole to cut away entangled fishing gear or other marine debris. Instead of a barrel of oil, their reward is watching the whale swim free. “We stole it from whalers in the 1850s,” said Ed Lyman, large whale entanglement response coordinator with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “Here we are using their technique to actually save whales.” Continue reading the story here 09:58

Anti-Fishing Lies Exposed: Attorney General Releases Point by Point Debunk of Kaniela Ing

News Release from Hawaii Attorney General, Feb 13, 2017 HONOLULU – Attorney General Doug Chin today released a letter dated December 29, 2016, with the permission of the legislator who originally received it, responding to several questions regarding labor conditions in the commercial fishing industry at Honolulu Harbor. PDF: A copy of the letter is attached. (Must read: AG responds to 9 questions from Ing.  Short version of response: “No.”) Latest Anti-Fishing Hype from AP: Hawaii may be breaking law by allowing foreign men to fish Last Year’s Anti-Fishing Hype from AP: Hawaiian seafood caught by foreign crews confined on boats Read the news release here, with links to the AP articles. 16:21

American Samoa: Local fishing fleet shocked at killing of navigator

The apparent murder of a navigator on board a vessel docked in Pago Pago Harbor has come as a shock to the close knit fishing fleet. Commissioner of Public Safety Le’i Sonny Thompson would only confirm the death of a fisherman on board a boat, but information gathered from KHJ News shows that the deceased was found dead on board the vessel American Eagle. It’s believed that his neck had been slashed. Nearly all of the crew of the vessel, mainly Vietnamese and Taiwanese, were taken in for questioning at the police station yesterday. The local agents for the vessel is KS Shipping. A veteran stevedore agent was shocked to hear about the apparent killing. He said such a heinous crime is uncommon for this port which is  relatively peaceful and friendly. link 12:20

North Pacific council director a possibility for Assistant Administrator position at NMFS replacing Eileen Sobeck

Chris Oliver, the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for the past 16 years, didn’t ask for a consideration as the new assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service; rather, the most powerful fishing industry voices in the nation’s most profitable region asked. He doesn’t know if the new administration will offer it or if he’d want it if it did. Still, looking at his history, knowledge and reputation, he seems in many ways a natural fit. Oliver said when it became known that the current administrator, Eileen Sobeck, won’t be staying with the new administration, parts of the fishing universe aligned. In the North Pacific and elsewhere, catch share systems are a contentious issue; Oliver said in an interview he’s already had fisheries stakeholders from other regions probing for what his intent would be with their respective fisheries. Oliver’s answer sums up both his attitude and in part that of the new administration. “It’s not my call,” he said. “What makes sense in the North Pacific…may not make sense in New England, or in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the story here 10:47

American Samoan Governor Lolo Moliga gets tough with NOAA

American Samoan Gov. called a spade a spade when he met with officials from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation visiting the territory last week. Speaking at Friday’s cabinet meeting, the first for the new administration, the governor said he told officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that their local office, is just that — an office, and it cannot dictate what American Samoa can and cannot do. He said it’s not that American Samoa is against conservation, but it’s the way that the federal government has gone about the takeover of local waters included in the sanctuary that he has a problem with. The governor said he told the feds that American Samioa is prepared to fight for ownership of its resources in the lawsuit now before the U.S. District Court of Honolulu, which goes to trial this week. Link 09:38

American Samoa Governor Lolo Moliga – US Sanctuary Program cannot dictate how territorial government uses local waters

The governor said he met with officials of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and explained to them the position of the legislature and the executive branch concerning federal oversight of areas included in the Sanctuary of American samoa. He said it’s not that American Samoa is against conservation, rather it’s the way that the federal government has taken over jurisdiction of local waters included in the sanctuary that he has a problem with. Waters included in the marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are not open for commercial fishing, and there are also restrictions on take for subsistence fishing. Speaking at a cabinet meeting the governor also said that the Attorney General will fight American Samoa’s lawsuit against the US government to take back control of local waters. link 09:20

Silver Bay Seafoods recruits in American Somoa for Alaska Fish Processing Jobs

The demand for jobs was evident Saturday when about 300 people responded to a company from Alaska’s call for workers. Silver Bay Seafoods is looking to hire 250 employees for the salmon season which runs from June to September. Two officials of the company including Shannon Grant, the Hiring Manager, explained the types of jobs that were on offer, the work schedule and the pay. Many of those who turned up Saturday said they wanted to give it a try and were attracted by the $10-$12 per hour wage, and working in Alaska. Hiring Manager Shannon Grant was quite pleased with the response. Link 16:01

How False killer whale’s remove bait from longline fishing gear captured on video for first time

How Hawaiian false killer whales remove fish from longline fishing gear has for the first time been observed by a team of researchers and fishermen. The team, coordinated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego scientist Aaron Thode, used video and audio recordings to observe false killer whales removing fish from a longline fishing hook, a behavior known as depredation. They gained new insight into a behavior that has caused false killer whales to entangle with fishing gear at rates deemed unsustainable by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. To observe false killer whales removing fish from hooks, the Alaskan and Hawaiian research team deployed an underwater camera, sound recorder, and vibration detector on long-line fishing gear deployed by fishing vessels off Hawaii. Read the article here 16:40

Western Pacific territories will have a voice in President-elect Donald Trump’s transition.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence met after the election with Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen—the only Republican delegate to Congress. It was there, that Radewagen’s expertise on island issues and possible role as an adviser to the transition team became clear. Reports of that role began surfacing last week, but it wasn’t until the middle of the weekend, here, that Radewagen issued a statement. Radewagen says she and the Vice President-elect discussed an advisory role, and she later spoke with the transition committee’s vice-chair, Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. American Samoa’s freshman Congresswoman made clear at the Pence meeting, that President-elect Trump needs to rescind some of President Obama’s executive orders, including creation of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument… audio, read the rest here 13:22

Congressmen Seek Investigation Of Hawaii Fishing Practices

Four Democratic congressmen have written to officials at the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claiming that Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet is operating illegally by employing — and in some cases possibly abusing — foreign fishermen. The congressmen said fishing boat owners who are not in “compliance with the law” should not be allowed to sell their products. Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva’s staff convened a forum about the matter on Capitol Hill last week. Activists at the event, who described what was happening as modern-day slavery, advocated a boycott of tuna until the alleged abuses stop. “This illegal activity does not represent American values and has dealt a blow to U.S. credibility as a global leader in fighting (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and human trafficking,” the congressmen wrote. WHERE IS THE PROOF! Read the rest here 10:41

Wespac Still Pushing Obama To Lift Marine Monument’s Fishing Ban

With President Barack Obama set to arrive Friday for vacation on Oahu, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is making another push for his administration to ease the anticipated impacts of the newly expanded on Hawaii’s $100 million commercial fishing industry. Wespac Executive Director Kitty Simonds and Chair Ed Ebisui Jr. have asked the president to delay implementation of the commercial fishing prohibition for five years, pointing out how there’s a precedent for phasing in such bans. Using his executive authority under the Antiquities Act, Obama signed a proclamation in August to quadruple the size of Papahanaumokuakea around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The commercial fishing ban took effect immediately. Read the rest here 13:07

Fishery Council Sends Letters to Obama on Impacts of Marine National Monuments

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is hopeful that when President Obama arrives in Honolulu tomorrow, he will acknowledge the $100 million commercial fishing industry in Hawai‘i and the impacts on that fishery by his expansions of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (MNM) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and the Pacific Remote Islands MNM, which includes nearby Johnston Atoll. The value of the Hawaii longline fishery is excess of $300 million when factoring in retail markets and support industries and their employees. “The push for the monuments was driven not by popular demand but by a Washington, DC-based environmental organization, the Pew Environment Group, which has had the ear of successive presidents,” explains Council Chair Edwin Ebisui Jr. Now there is talk about overlaying the monument status with a National Marine Sanctuary designation.” Read the WPFMC press release here 09:41

US Signs South Pacific Tuna Treaty Amendments

tuna-seiners-265x300The United States and 16 Pacific Island governments initialed amendments to the Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries at a ceremony in Nadi, Fiji on December 3, 2016. According to the US State Department, the revisions to the Treaty will generate higher economic returns from fisheries for Pacific Island countries, while supporting the continued viable operation of the US fishing fleet in the region. “The positive outcome reflects strong commitments to the Treaty by the parties and relevant stakeholders, including the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the US fishing industry, and a further enhancement of political and economic ties between the United States and the Pacific Island region,” the US State Department said in a press statement. Read the rest here 09:07

Coast Guard conducts medevac from fishing vessel off Oahu

coast guardThe Coast Guard medevaced the master of the 70-foot fishing vessel Lady J3 about 41 miles north of Oahu Saturday morning. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point safely medevaced the 36-year-old man to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu for treatment. He was reportedly suffering from swelling to his lower extremities and was unable to stand. Coast Guard watchstanders at Joint Rescue Communications Center Honolulu received a request for the medevac from the NOAA Fisheries observer aboard the Lady J3 mid-morning Friday. The vessel was 176 miles north of Kauai at the time, heading toward Oahu and maintained a six-hour communications schedule with Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstanders. By the evening the master’s condition had deteriorated and he was having trouble breathing. At the recommendation of the Coast Guard flight surgeon the vessel continued to make best course and speed toward Oahu to close the distance and bring them into range of the Coast Guard Dolphin crew. The medevac was conducted at first light to bring the master to a higher level of medical care. Weather conditions at the time of the hoist were reportedly 12 mph winds with seas to 7 feet, haze and showers. link 09:26

US tuna boats seek level playing field

tuna boat samoaGoing into next week’s meeting of the organization called the Western and Central Pacific fisheries Commission, aka Tuna Commission, the body which regulates the fishing of tuna in the Pacific Ocean, US tuna boats are hoping for better outcomes than what has been achieved in the best. The meeting takes place December 5-9 in Nadi, Fiji and American Samoa is sending several representatives. While much focus has been on the canneries and helping them stay competitive and keep them here, the tuna boats that deliver the fish which are processed and canned at the Starkist and Samoa Tuna Processors plants, have not received much attention. Regulations initiated by the Tuna Commission and the United States in recent years have hit the US tuna boats hard and subsequently affected the supply of fish for the local canneries. Read the story here 12:02

Pew: Pacific Bluefin Tuna Management Proposal Will Not End Overfishing

pacific bluefin tunaThe Pacific bluefin tuna has been overfished for decades and has seen population declines of 97 percent, but a management proposal to be considered by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) would not improve the status quo and must be rejected by member governments, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The WCPFC, which oversees the tuna fisheries of the western Pacific Ocean, meets here Dec. 5-9 to discuss management measures for Pacific bluefin. Management of the stock has long been directed by the Northern Committee, a WCPFC subcommittee; in past years, the committee’s recommendations have been approved by the full Commission with little review or discussion, much to the detriment of Pacific bluefin. (according to the Pew Charitable Trust). Amanda Nickson, who directs Pew’s global tuna conservation campaign, issued the following statement on why the WCPFC should reject its current proposal:  Read the rest here 12:03

Will Trump Be Able To Undo Papahanaumokuakea, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monuments?

barry-obamaIn the months leading up to the Nov. 8 election, President Barack Obama signed a series of proclamations to dramatically increase the amount of land and water that is federally protected from commercial fishing, mining, drilling and development. On Aug. 24, he established a nearly 90,000-acre national monument in the Katahdin Woods of Maine. Two days later, Obama expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands by 283 million acres, making it the world’s largest protected area at the time. And on Sept. 15, he created the first national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, protecting more than 3 million acres of marine ecosystems, seamounts and underwater canyons southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It’s mostly speculation at this point as to what Trump will do but groups on both sides of the issue are keeping a watchful eye on things. Advocates for commercial fishing interests on the East Coast have started nudging policymakers to consider what changes the next administration could make. But West Coast and Hawaii industry groups are still gathering information and developing plans. Read the rest here 08:47

American Samoa push to remove marine reserves

aumua-amata-radewagenAmerican Samoa’s US Congresswoman, Aumua Amata Radewagen, is pushing for the incoming US Government to overturn President Obama’s decision to create marine monuments in the Pacific. The Remote Islands Monuments comprise the largest marine protected area in the world and encompass commercial fishing areas that American Samoa’s fishing industry regard as vital for its survival. Auma met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Thursday. She said she made clear the need for President-elect Donald Trump to rescind President Obama’s executive orders creating and expanding the marine reserves. “So these repeals will be a huge win for us in American Samoa and our fishing community. And I know that the Governor and I are united to reverse these misguided designations.” Link 11:31

Fishermen hope Trump will end Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument

donald-trumpNew England fishermen who opposed President Barack Obama’s creation of the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine national monument are now hopeful President-elect Donald Trump will abolish it, shrink it or allow some fishing inside it. Environmentalists view the monument as a way to sustain important species, as well as research and reduce the toll of climate change. “We take the monument very seriously and any threats to it are threats, I think, against the national interest,” said Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation. “We would take appropriate action if and when anything happened, including making a compelling scientific case to the president for the monument.” It’s unclear whether Trump could unilaterally undo a marine monument designation. It hasn’t been done before. There’s precedent, however, to modify a monument. Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, also in August, to create the world’s largest oceanic preserve at nearly 600,000 square miles. Read the story here 15:45

Coast Guard conducts boardings, returns vessels to port for safety violations in Hawaii

coast-guard-hawaiiThe crew of the USCGC Galveston Island (WPB-1349) terminated the voyages of the commercial fishing vessels Azure, Capt. Millions III and Capt. Danny for hazardous safety conditions during boardings off Honolulu Harbor in early November. Of the 10 total boardings, the crew terminated the voyages of three fishing vessels and issued 39 notices of violation, including two fisheries violations, two potential marine pollution violations and 35 safety violations. Partnering with the Galveston Island during the boardings were two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents bringing their expansive knowledge and fisheries expertise. Of the three fishing vessels whose voyages were terminated by the Galveston Island crew, the boarding team found multiple discrepancies, including excessive volatile fuel, multiple five-gallon buckets of oily water, oily water in the bilge, lack of a sound-producing device, lack of a record log book for training and drills as well as inoperable bilge and general alarms. In one case, a non-U.S. citizen was found to be serving as master of a U.S. documented vessel.  Read the rest here 20:33

Bill Would Give Temporary Work Visas to Foreign Fishermen

long line vesselsU.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono plans to introduce a bill in Congress to protect foreign fishermen from exploitation. The bill would give fishermen temporary work visas to ensure wage protections and safe working conditions. Hirono said in a statement Monday that the legislation aims to protect the fishermen while preserving the longline industry. She says the visas would allow foreign fishermen to leave their vessels while docked in Honolulu. The proposal follows an Associated Press investigation that found some fishermen have been confined to vessels for years. A federal loophole allows the foreign men to work, but it exempts them from most basic labor protections. Hirono says she’s also working with federal agencies to find solutions that don’t involve legislation. link 20:13

Successful PNA vessel days scheme

Five years ago managing the PNA fisheries was mostly done with a calculator and pencil, and with data sent by fax or email. Today, the fishery that is generating US$400 million a year to nine Pacific islands is managed by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement’s Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS) that allows managers to know what is taking place in their fishing zone with a tap of their computer keyboards. ‘It provides easy access to fisheries information for increasingly effective management of PNA’s Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) that governs purse seine fishing in the western and central Pacific,’ said PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru, who added that the VDS and the FIMS management tool is also being rolled out for the longline industry. ‘FIMS shows each party’s usage of fishing days and the percentage of days left,’ said Ms. Jack. The PNA Office coordinates this fishing day data with each fishery department in the nine islands using the VDS, including resolving any differences between the national fishery department and the PNA Office in determining fishing day usage. Day-to-day VDS management of fishing day data translates directly into major revenue for each VDS participant. Between 2010 and 2015, revenue to the islands rose from US$60 million to close to US$400 million. Watch the video,Read the story here 11:07

Tuna Vessel Operator Convicted for Oil Discharges Off American Samoa

department-of-justice-logoAn American tuna fishing company that regularly unloaded its catch in American Samoa, was convicted and sentenced today for discharging oil into the South Pacific and for maintaining false records, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia.  The company, Pacific Breeze Fisheries LLC, owned the Fishing Vessel F/V Pacific Breeze, a tuna purse seiner that was responsible for the pollution. Pacific Breeze Fisheries admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal dumping of oily bilge water into the waters off American Samoa without the use of required pollution prevention equipment.  These discharges occurred on at least two occasions, in 2014 and 2015, before the vessel brought fish to a cannery in the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa. Read the rest here 14:11

National Marine Fisheries Service issues annual report on Fisheries of the United States, 2015

noaa nmfs logoThis publication is the annual National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States for 2015. The report provides data on U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value as well as other aspects of U.S. commercial fishing. In addition, data are reported on the U.S. fishery processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products. Information in this report came from many sources. Field offices of NMFS, with the generous cooperation of the coastal states and Regional Fishery Information Networks, collected and compiled data on U.S. commercial landings and processed fishery products. The NMFS Fisheries Statistics Division in Silver Spring, MD, managed the collection and compilation of recreational statistics, in cooperation with various States and Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and tabulated and prepared all data for publication. Sources of other data appearing in this publication are: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Read the press release here, Read the full report here 09:34

Officials say they cannot enforce Hawaii fishing contracts

Federal officials cannot enforce a contract being proposed by the commercial fishing industry as a solution to concerns about foreign fishing crews in Hawaii, leaving the industry responsible for enforcing its own rules. Federal and state officials met with vessel owners, captains and representatives from the fleet Thursday at a pier in Honolulu. The normally private quarterly meeting was opened to media and lawmakers to discuss conditions uncovered in an Associated Press investigation that found some foreign fishermen had been confined to vessels for years. On Wednesday, Hawaii state Rep. Kaniela Ing held a public meeting at the state Capitol on the issue. Ing and other lawmakers pressed representatives from the fishing industry and government agencies about what can be done to increase oversight and improve conditions in the industry. Read the story here 09:31

American Somoa misses out on quota transfer fisheries revenues

Honolulu-Fish-Auction-Bluefin-TunaStatements by the governor’s fisheries advisor at the meeting of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council last week indicate that the territory missed out on an opportunity to earn money from allowing Hawaii to use our quota of big eye tuna catch. During the public comment session which followed a report on American Samoa’s fisheries activities at the Council meeting in Honolulu,  Governor Lolo’s adviser on fisheries, Vaamua Henry Sesepasara, spoke up about the big eye quota transfer. This allows Hawaii longliners to buy unused quota limits for big eye catch of the territories of Guam, Northern Marianas and American Samoa. Vaamua said that the Lolo administration was not aware of the big eye quota transfer which was first carried out in 2011 and 2012 under the Togiola administration. Read the story here 14:12

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Foreign Fishermen Have No Complaints Working On US longline vessels

Federal officials said Thursday they have interviewed dozens of foreign crew members who work on U.S. commercial fishing boats since allegations of labor abuses surfaced, but haven’t found much beyond a few cockroaches. “They had an opportunity to talk to us freely,” said Ferdie Jose, supervisory officer for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “They didn’t voice any complaints.” Jose made the statement at what has traditionally been a private quarterly meeting among commercial fishing vessel owners, law enforcement officers and state and federal officials. It was a marked contrast to one held just a day earlier at the state Capitol, where legislators grilled state officials and fishing industry leaders for nearly three hours in an effort to find ways to improve the working conditions for foreign crew members. Read the story here 09:02

Hawaii lawmakers hold public meeting on foreign fishermen

5808338b8495f-imageA woman who worked as an observer on fishing boats that docked in Honolulu described for Hawaii lawmakers what it was like without toilets, showers or hot water. “You have a cold water deck hose as a shower…the water tastes like iron,” said Ashley Watts, a former observer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Watts’ comments to lawmakers at the state Capitol Wednesday followed an Associated Press investigation that found some fishermen have been confined to vessels for years. A federal loophole allows the foreign men to work but exempts them from most basic labor protections. Many foreign fishermen have to stay on the boats because they are not legally allowed to enter the United States.  Before the meeting, a group of Hawaii residents and activists rallied outside the state Capitol to call for better conditions for fishermen, demanding an end to what they call unacceptable living and working conditions. Read the story here 13:25

Fight Over Papahanaumokuakea Expansion Isn’t Over

Hawaii’s commercial fishing industry leaders are not finished fighting the fourfold expansion of a U.S. marine monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Now the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which actively opposed the expansion, wants the government to study the potential effects and find ways to alleviate them. “The impacts to the Hawaii fishing and seafood industries and indigenous communities as a result of monument expansion are considerable,” Council Chair Edwin Ebisui Jr. said in a statement Friday. “The Council will write to the President about these and request the Department of Commerce to mitigate them.” The latest wave of opposition to the monument rolled in earlier this month at the council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee meeting in Honolulu.  New committee member Ray Hilborn, a prominent marine biologist from the University of Washington, railed against large marine protected areas. Read the story here 08:59

Tri Marine: Tuna prices, supply concerns influenced its $70 million cannery cannery closure

Tri Marine Inaugurates Samoa Tuna ProcessorsFluctuating tuna prices, supply issues and other factors outside of the control of Tri Marine International led to the commercial demise of its $70 million cannery in American Samoa, the company said. The Oct. 13 announcement that the plant will cease canning operations as of Dec. 11 putting several hundred jobs in jeopardy came as a result of a series of factors, Bellevue, Washington-based Tri Marine said in a statement to Undercurrent News. “In truth, there were a number of factors outside of our control that influenced this difficult decision — the cost and abundance of tuna raw material in American Samoa, changes in free trade agreements, access to fishing grounds, the appeal of US-produced canned tuna in the market, market demand for higher quality sustainable and traceable tuna products, etc,” the company said. “To point to any one thing over another would miss the complexity of a challenging situation.” Read the story here 16:08

Tri Marine Group announces closure of Samoa Tuna Processors cannery December 11

Employees of Samoa Tuna Processors are learning that the cannery is shutting down indefinitely December 11 due to “adverse business conditions”. The $70 million cannery  was officially opened in January of last year, but only started production  a few months later because of delayed shipping due to industrial action on the west coast. The closure would put close to 1,000 workers out of jobs and send ripple effects throughout the community and also Samoa where the majority of production employees are from. Renato Curto, CEO of the Tri Marine Group said in a  statement, “This is an incredibly difficult decision and one we make with a great deal of reluctance. “Our hearts go out to STP’s employees, suppliers, service providers and everyone else who depends on STP’s operations.” The statement said the challenging economics of canning tuna in American Samoa combined with external factors facing STP make Tri Marine’s private-label focused business model for operating the plant economically unsustainable in today’s market. Tri Marine is currently evaluating alternatives for the facility including outright sale, preferably to a strategic buyer that would minimize job losses. Read the rest here 17:04

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Heads Toward Protection

pacific bluefin tunaThirteen conservation groups and a former National Fisheries biologist petitioned for federal protection for Pacific bluefin tuna, and the marine agency agreed listing may be warranted. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced Tuesday that it will begin a 12-month status review of the iconic fish as the first step in the long process to secure Endangered Species Act protection for the overfished species.  The Center for Biological Diversity, a frequent petitioner and litigator on behalf of imperiled species, was joined by Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians, Sierra Club, Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Ocean Foundation, Center for Food Safety, Greenpeace, Mission Blue, Recirculating Farms Coalition, The Safina Center, SandyHook SeaLife Foundation, and Jim Chambers, a retired NMFS biologist, owner of Prime Seafood sustainable seafood restaurant supply company and member of the Seafood Choices Alliance. Read the rest here 08:42

WWF calls for shut down of commercial fishing to save Pacific bluefin tuna

pacific bluefin tunaWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called for the suspension of commercial fishing to save Pacific bluefin tuna because of the inaction of responsible agencies in addressing the decrease in stock. WWF Oceans and Seafood group leader Dr Aiko Yamauchi said members of the Northern Committee (NC) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) have failed to agree to an urgently-needed recovery plan to save Pacific bluefin tuna. WCPFC was established by the Convention for the conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean “Because of the lack of progress and the repeated inaction of the responsible bodies, the Pacific bluefin stock will continue to teeter on the edge of collapse,” Dr Yamauchi said. “We call for a full suspension of commercial fishing of this species until a Pacific-wide rebuilding and management plan has been agreed. Link 14:35

An anti fishing agenda driven article: Overfishing? Hawaii Longliners Want Even More Tuna

long line vesselsIn 2013, Japan, Korea, China, the United States and other countries with an appetite for bigeye tuna agreed to gradually catch less ahi in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean after studies showed they were on track to decimate the species if they did not adjust course. That’s not what the U.S. has done though. A federal rule lets the nation’s longliners, almost all of which are based in Hawaii, extend their quota through agreements with certain Pacific island territories. And now federal fishery managers, longliners and others are mulling ways to haul in even more tuna — potentially twice as much or more — by changing the rules. The agreements — which include payments into a fund for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam or American Samoa to use on development projects — already have the ability to nearly double this year’s U.S. limit of 3,554 tons. Read the story here 10:28

Fishing Industry faces tough times – Sam Parisi

manatthewheelUS Fishermen from all over are feeling the effects of NOAA and conservation groups that are making it very difficult for our fishing fleets on every coast. Every day there is anther obstacle for our fishermen, the most recent on the East Coast. President Obama has designated a large area of Cape Cod, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. I fished those waters back in the late 60,s for whiting and lobster. Fishermen depend on those deep waters for lobsters. Although the President, after up roars from the lobstermen, has given them seven years to vacate, in the end those lobstermen will lose their rich grounds. When does it end?  Every day some one else comes up with a brain storm and there are so many people out there that no idea of the effect, but think it is a good idea to protect whatever, not thinking of the harm to our fishermen. I believe the deck is stacked and our fishermen do not stand a chance to exist. We need help from our political leaders. I have heard over and over “we will help”, with good intentions but the fact remains NOAA holds all the cards. We have no say. We need political leader’s that will stand up to NOAA on our behalf, and follow through. We need help now. Here are the basic problems that need attention. Language written into MSA that would unlock the ironclad grip NOAA has on the “best available science” and accept other independent scientific data. SK Grant money needs to be removed from NOAA. Senator Sullivan of Alaska has such a bill pending and finally our fishermen should not have to pay for monitoring that is NOAA’s responsibility. Thanks for listing. Sam Parisi, Proud to be a fishermen. 19:24

Obama’s new ocean preserves are bad for the environment and for people

obama-becauseWho wants to save the oceans? Short answer: everyone, especially politicians. A less frequently asked question is whether their high-profile efforts always work. Right now, world leaders seem to want to see who can declare the biggest marine protected areas, or MPAs, in their territory. MPAs are kinds of national parks for sea life that extends from ocean surface to ocean floor. Commercial fishing and other undersea ventures are banned in them. They are popping up everywhere. In August, President Obama announced one in the western Pacific Ocean that is 50 per cent bigger than Texas. In September he created another, more modest one off the coast of New England. Britain announced yet another MPA in September around St. Helena Island in the south Pacific. It is half the size of the Lone Star State. In fact, the MPA movement has become a religion with accepted articles of faith that more and bigger are better.  This current obsession is bad for the oceans, bad for the global environment, and bad for people. Consider what the imposition of an MPA can do to the economy and livelihood of local fishers, who are unable to easily pick up and move elsewhere. Some fishermen in New England are warning that they could go out of business as a result of the new Atlantic marine preserve. Read the op-ed here 10:48

What Quota? Hawaii Longliners Are Fishing For Ahi Again

ahi-tuna406x250Hawaii’s longline fishermen are back at sea in search of more ahi after extending their quota limit through an agreement with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The 2016 season had ended early, as it has for the past few years, when the longline fleet in late July hit its 3,554-ton limit for bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific. The deal between Quota Management Inc. President Khang Dang and Northern Marianas Gov. Ralph Torres involves paying the territory $250,000 for 1,000 tons of its 2,000-ton limit. Under the agreement, QMI can assign its rights and obligations to the Hawaii Longline Association, a wholly owned subsidiary of QMI. The association is a nonprofit trade group formed to support the $100 million commercial longline fisheries industry, which includes a fleet of roughly 140 vessels ported in Honolulu. (the author seem to have an axe to grind) Read the story here 09:53

Ushering industrial aquaculture into the Pacific Islands Region EEZ is anything but sustainable

NOAA ScientistRight now, anyone can throw a cage into the open ocean within the Economic Enterprise Zone and begin an aquaculture operation, said Joshua DeMello, of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The beginning of that aquaculture management program for the Pacific Islands Region is in the works, under the eye of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service and in conjunction with Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The entities are preparing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) analyzing the possible environmental impacts of the proposed management program and alternatives. “The purpose of it is to develop a management program to support sustainable, economically sound aquaculture in the Pacific Island Region,” DeMello said. The PEIS process looks at options for permit duration, whether cages should be metal or net pens, and allowable species. But ushering industrial aquaculture into the EEZ is anything but sustainable, poses a threat to the environment and could impact commercial fishing, according to a biologist. Read the story here 20:13

Bill to limit presidential powers to designate monuments

screen_shot_2014-09-26_at_11-11-34_am-0Key US Senators are trying to limit presidential power to designate sweeping national monuments on land and water—an issue that hit home with American Samoa’s fishing industry in the last few years. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have introduced separate bills to curb presidential power under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives the president, sweeping power to designate hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean and millions of acres of land, as national monuments. President Obama established in 2009, and expanded in 2014, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument—the largest marine protected area in the world…covering 370,000 square nautical miles, and encompassing important fishing areas for American Samoa’s fishing industry. Read the rest here 13:57

Fishermen Who Fled Slavery in San Francisco Sue Boat Owner

Two Indonesian fishermen who escaped slavery aboard a Honolulu-based tuna and swordfish vessel when it docked at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf are suing the boat’s owner for tricking them into accepting dangerous jobs they say they weren’t allowed to leave. Attorneys for Abdul Fatah and Sorihin, who uses one name, say in a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday that they were recruited in Indonesia seven years ago to work in Hawaii’s commercial fishing fleet without realizing they would never be allowed onshore. They have since been issued visas for victims of human trafficking and are living in the San Francisco area. The lawsuit alleges that San Jose, California, resident Thoai Nguyen, owner and captain of the Sea Queen II, forced Sorihin and Fatah to work up to 20-hour shifts, denied them medical treatment and demanded thousands of dollars if they wanted to leave before their contracts expired. Nguyen did not return calls seeking comment. Read the story here 15:05

For Immediate Release – Hawaii Seafood Council: Hawaii Fishing Industry takes action to protect foreign crew from labor abuse

hawaiiseafood-council-logo-2For Immediate Release Hawaii Seafood Council 1130 N Nimitz Hwy, Suite A263 Honolulu, Hawaii 96817 – Hawaii Longline Fishing Industry takes immediate action to assess and establish controls to protect foreign crew from forced labor and labor abuse. On September 8, 2016, an article was published by the Associated Press (AP) which included allegations of forced labor (slavery), human trafficking and poor working conditions on Hawaii longline fishing vessels that use foreign contracted crewmen. “The industry takes the AP report seriously, is actively assessing the situation and is committed to making certain that if found, forced labor and labor abuse is eliminated from the fishing industry” says Jim Cook, Hawaii fishing industry member and advocate. Read the press release, click here   17:46

Hawaii longline industry creates task force to respond to allegations of human trafficking and poor working conditions.

jim-cook-hawaii-longline-640x420Hawaii longline industry leaders say they have formed a task force and hired an expert on slavery in response to media reports about human trafficking, forced labor and poor working conditions aboard some of their boats. “We’re trying to get a sort of fleet assessment, get our arms around the problem and see where we’re going to take it,” said Jim Cook, who owns several longline fishing boats and serves on the Hawaii Longline Association board of directors. He said Monday that the goal is to weed out the “bad actors,” in part by requiring a universal crew contract that incorporates international norms to address forced labor. That contract is being finalized and should be “ready to rock” in the next couple days, Cook said. The task force also includes John Kaneko, program manager of the Hawaii Seafood Council, Khang Dang, president of Quota Management, and Katrina Nakamura, who was also hired as a consultant to provide guidance to the industry. Read the story here 08:25

Hawaii lawmakers promise reform for confined fishermen

State and federal lawmakers are promising to improve conditions for hundreds of foreign fishermen working in Hawaii’s commercial fleet, and at least one company has already stopped buying fish from the boats following an Associated Press investigation that found the men have been confined to vessels for years without basic labor protections. While many men appreciate the jobs, which pay better than they could get back home, the report revealed instances of human trafficking, tuberculosis and food shortages. It also found some fishermen being forced to defecate in buckets, suffering running sores from bed bugs and being paid as little as 70 cents an hour. On Capitol Hill, Hawaii’s congressional delegation – U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, all Democrats – said they were exploring legislative solutions after being startled by the findings about the state’s $110 million industry, which ranks fifth among the country’s highest-grossing fisheries. Read the story here 06:54

Hawaii’s Longline Fishing industry pushes back following questions about labor practices

Allegations of harsh treatment of workers in Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet  have made headlines nationally. Now, the industry is defending itself, one day after a grocery store chain stopped buying tuna from Hawaii’s fish auction. There are 140 longline boats and 700 fishermen in Hawaii’s fishing fleet. The undocumented workers’ employment is legal. “It’s a very in-demand job for them,” Hawaii Longline Association president Sean Martin said. University of Hawaii professor Uli Kozok interprets for Indonesian fishermen. He’s heard complaints of physical abuse aboard the boats. “They’re quite a few stories that I’ve heard where fishermen were beaten by the captain or by the first officer,” he said. He said fishermen complain of insufficient food and third-world working conditions. Martin thinks the allegations are unfounded. “It’s a long ways from slave labor and human trafficking,” he said. Read the story here 11:25

US Labor Dept. to look at conditions affecting foreign workers on American fishing vessels in Hawaii

Labor Department official said the agency is “deeply disturbed” by news reports about the long hours, low wages and inhumane living conditions suffered by up to 700 workers from Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands. The official said the agency was reaching out to other U.S  government agencies to try to figure out what to do about it. “The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that workers are treated with respect, fairness, and dignity,” said Labor Department spokesperson Jason Surbey in an emailed statement. A widely published report by the Associated Press found that some workers are held in prison-like captivity at the piers of Honolulu and San Francisco when the ships are being unloaded. When at sea, the AP reported, they work up to 20 hours a day at wages as low as 70 cents an hour. Read the story here 11:07

Whole Foods drops Honolulu fish auction until it proves fair boat labor

Whole Foods has suspended buying fish from the Hawaii fish auction amid concerns over the labor practices of some fishing vessels. It’s an issue Always Investigating first reported on back in 2013 and is now getting national attention. Fishermen describe horrid working conditions, rock bottom pay, and even allegations of international crew captivity aboard some of the boats that dock at Honolulu Harbor. Industry watchers say the Whole Foods move could be just the first of many, and the fish auction is already working on a system to weed out vessels with unfair labor practices. Telling Always Investigating they have “zero tolerance for human rights abuses,” Whole Foods said Tuesday: “We have suspended purchases of the small amount of fish we source from the Hawaiian seafood auction until we can ensure the working conditions on these boats align with our core values.” Read the story here 12:20

Read Foreign fishermen confined to boats catch Hawaiian seafood Click here

Six year US Tuna Treaty, illegal fishing highlighted in Pacific Island Forum report card

Matai Seremaiah Nawalu, Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee Ministers, told leaders that while there’s additional administrative and individual processes to complete, the Pacific negotiators have delivered against the mandate handed down by Leaders and Ministers. He said the six year agreement that has been reached is an excellent outcome and asked that the leaders join him in thanking and congratulating the region’s negotiators of the US Tuna Treaty. The treaty allows US purse seiners including those that supply the local canneries access to the exclusive economic zones of Forum member countries which cover a wide swath of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean which contains the largest and most valuable tuna fisheries in the world. Many Pacific Island parties depend on fisheries as one of their most imhportant natural resources, and the United States has for decades sought to be a valued partner in developing regional fisheries. The U.S. purse seine fleet operates according to the highest commercial standards and is subject to strict enforcement by authorities. Read the rest here 13:36

How the WPFMC and Kitty Simonds Crashed Conservation’s Biggest Event

Irreverent might be the best way to describe Kitty Simonds’ feelings about the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress, a 10-day event currently taking place at the Hawaii Convention Center. “It’s all about making money,” Simonds said as she looked dismissively at two preteens taking selfies with cardboard cut-outs of elephants and tigers at an environmental exhibition on the convention center floor. Simonds is the executive director of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council — or Wespac, as it’s more commonly known — a quasi-governmental agency charged with monitoring Pacific fish stocks from Hawaii and American Samoa to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. She’s a highly contentious figure in conservation circles, which made her organization’s involvement in the world’s largest environmental conference all the more curious. Simond’s brazen attitude was on full display at the Hawaii Convention Center this week. The agency had it’s own exhibition booth alongside the likes of the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund. The exhibition stuck out, too. (Kudos to Kitty!) Read the story here 07:51