Category Archives: Western Pacific

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