Tag Archives: Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council

U.S. Rep Darren Soto’s Billfish Conservation Act cuts consumer access to sustainable fresh seafood

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is disappointed that America’s seafood consumers may soon be deprived of sustainably harvested domestic marlin products should President Trump sign legislation to prohibit interstate commerce of billfish (not including swordfish) landed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto ’s (D-Fla.), passed the House on June 26 and the Senate on July 30 and is now headed to the president. “It is upsetting, in this era of tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the $12 billion US seafood trade deficit, that highly monitored US Pacific Island fishing and seafood communities may suffer hardship should this legislation become law,” notes Kitty M. Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. >click to read<10:34

FALL 2017 Pacific Islands Fishery Newsletter

There is a lot of information in the newsletter about issues that are common to other area’s, MPA’s, council actions, and includes a post from Paul Dalzell, senior scientist and pelagic fisheries coordinator for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, reflects on trends in fishery management since 1996 and takes a stab at a few of his pet peeves and vexations. A key problem with environmental activists is they must constantly campaign. The campaign can never die. Thus groups seeking an end to fishing simply shift the goal posts as one issue fades or is addressed by fishery management. Campaigns to address large top predators in the marine ecosystem are supplanted by campaigns gravely concerned about small forage fish. click here to read the newsletter11:13

Management of Pacific fisheries at WESPAC’s committee meeting

Pacific scientists will meet in Lihue, Kauai, from Oct. 10 to 12 to provide recommendations on managing fisheries in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and the US Pacific Remote Islands Areas. The meeting of the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is open to the public. The council will consider the recommendations of the SSC and its other advisory bodies at its 171st meeting on Oct. 17-19 in Utulei, American Samoa. The major agenda items include the following: click here to read the story 11:10

Congressman Blasts Fishery Council For ‘Improper Lobbying’ – asks for an investigation

The Honolulu-based Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council was harshly criticized on Capitol Hill last week over allegations of anti-environmental lobbying and secretiveness. U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, a Democrat who represents the Northern Marianas Islands, blasted the council known as Wespac during a hearing before the Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee. Sablan asked for an investigation of the 16-member council’s activities, which he said include “improper lobbying,” organizing efforts to undermine environmental protections and unspecified financial conflicts of interest. click here to read the story 11:09

Blown Deadlines Weaken Hawaii’s Voice On Federal Fishery Management Council

Hawaii will soon have less influence in setting national policies that affect everything from commercial fishing to endangered species in nearly 1.5 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. Gov. David Ige’s administration twice missed deadlines to submit to federal officials a list of names to fill two at-large terms that expire in August on the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The seats have historically been held by Hawaii residents. Instead, they will be filled from the lists provided by the governors of American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. Guam, the other U.S. territory represented on the council, did not nominate anyone. click here to read the story 08:40

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Recommend Reducing 2017 Catch Limits for Three Species

HONOLULU (21 June 2017) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council today concluded the second of its three-day meeting  in Honolulu with a recommendation that the annual catch limits (ACLs) for three species in the US Pacific Islands be reduced in 2017. The reductions are recommended because the average commercial catches of these species have exceeded the ACLs over the past three years or more. click here to read the press release 15:10

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council meeting Honolulu, HI. June 19-22, 2017

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council convenes , June 19-22, 2017 at Fuller Hall, YWCA, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu. Fishermen, other stakeholders and members of the public are invited to participate in the meeting and decision-making for federally managed fisheries in the offshore waters of Hawai’i, the Territories of American Samoa and Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and US Pacific Remote Island Areas. click here for information 22:34

Scientists to Advise on Marine Monument Fishing Regulations, American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area, Kona Crabs, ACL’s

Renowned scientists from throughout the Pacific will convene in Honolulu June 13 to 15 to provide recommendations on managing fisheries in Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the US Pacific Remote Islands Areas.  The meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) is open to the public and runs 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400. Major agenda items include the following: Click here to read the press release 17:18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaii Commercial Fishermen, Seafood Consumers Hit Again as President, Pew’s Ocean Legacy Closes Additional 442,778 Square Miles of Fishing Grounds in the U.S. Pacific Islands

“We do not believe the expansion is based on  the best available scientific information,” said Kitty Simonds, Council executive director. “It serves a political legacy rather than any conservation benefits to pelagic species such as tunas, billfish, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals. The campaign to expand the monument was organized by a multibillion dollar, agenda-driven environmental organization that has preyed upon the public’s lack of understanding of ocean resource management issues and utilized influential native Hawaiians and several high-level politicians to lead this initiative. Our government has chosen to follow the Pew’s Ocean Legacy.” Read the press release here 21:34

WPFMC asks for transparent analysis of proposed marine monument expansion

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on Wednesday agreed to a resolution that asks the U.S. government to address a suite of concerns before acting on the proposed expansion on the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument or MNM in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Council members Suzanne Case, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources chair, and Julie Leialoha, Conservation Council for Hawaii president, voted against the proposal. National Marine Fisheries Service or NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto abstained. The resolution requests a “public, transparent, deliberative, documented and science-based process” to address the proposed expansion, which could prohibit fishing in two-thirds of the U.S. exclusive economic zone, i.e., waters out to 200 miles from shore, around Hawaii. The resolution is being sent to President Obama, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the secretaries of Commerce, the Interior and State. Read the rest here 16:47

Enviro’s Complain Top Federal Fisheries Official Shouldn’t Be Meddling In Marine Monument Debate

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National MonumentAn environmental group has filed a complaint with federal officials over Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Executive Director Kitty Simonds’ role in orchestrating opposition to the proposed expansion of the marine monument around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii, says Simonds is providing “the advocacy and the lobbying campaign” against the proposal to expand Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. “It’s totally inappropriate for Kitty Simonds in her official capacity as executive director of Wespac – a taxpayer, federally funded entity – to play such a prominent role in an aggressive lobbying effort to generate public and political opposition to the proposed expansion,” Ziegler said Friday in an interview. The Conservation Council of Hawaii’s complaint was sent Friday to David Smith, deputy inspector general in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General, and Lois Schiffer, general counsel for the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Read the story here 14:40

Papahanaumokuakea: Hawaii Fishermen get no response from Obama, Schatz

schatz d pewU.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, has yet to respond to a June 20th request to meet with the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on his proposal to expand the size of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument fourfold. Also unanswered are letters sent by the council to President Obama on April 8 and July 14, 2016, with concerns about the impact to Hawaii’s fisheries of the proposals by Schatz and by seven Native Hawaiians in January 2016 that the president expand the monument using his authority under the Antiquities Act. Council Chair Edwin Ebisui Jr., Executive Director Kitty M. Simonds and Vice Chairs McGrew Rice, William Sword, John Gourley and Michael Duenas reminded the Senator that the Council has federal jurisdiction over the waters within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands beyond the current monument boundaries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. “We are dismayed that you did not consult with the prior to distribution of your letters, which have proliferated unsubstantiated statements through the media,” the council wrote to Schaltz. Read the rest here 10:13

Scientist sees no benefit in expansion of Papahanaumokuakea Monument

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National MonumentA senior scientist from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council says there’s no conservation benefits in expanding Hawaii’s protected waters. Council members are opposing the plan to expand the Papahanaumokuakea Monument saying it would be detrimental to Hawaii’s economy, food security and food production. An executive order, issued by President Obama in 2014, would increase the Monument five-fold and reduce the available fishing grounds in the exclusive economic zone around Hawaii from 63 to 15 percent. The scientist, Paul Dalzell, said claims that the monument’s expansion would improve conservation were false. He says, “It will not improve things for fisheries or for the abundance of marine fish. “For a start off, it’s open ocean so pelagic species just swim through it. It won’t pile up there and then replenish fish stocks around the main Hawaiians.”  Link 16:19

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council meeting in Honolulu March 15 – 17, 2016

WPFMC sidebarThe Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council convenes March 15 to 17, at Fuller Hall, YWCA, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu. Fishermen, other stakeholders and members of the public are invited to participate in the meeting and decision-making for federally managed fisheries in the offshore waters of Hawai’i, the Territories of American Samoa and Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and US Pacific Remote Island Areas. Read the rest here 12:17

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s Pacific Islands Fishery News!

4796fae4-57fe-48f9-96c8-7c241c65cea7Welcome to the Winter 2016 edition of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s  Pacific Islands Fishery News! Click  here  to download the complete PDF and be sure to  allow a few extra seconds for the file to upload. Our last newsletter of 2015 is dedicated to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council’s activities in Hawai’i, one of our areas  of jurisdiction. We hope that the sections on management, research and community projects will offer you a glimpse of the breadth of what we do-from conserving fishery ecosystems to promoting the livelihood of fishermen and a culture of fishing and from serving as the bridge between fishermen and the government to fulfilling our requirements.. Read it here

No overfishing of bottomfish in US territories of American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

bottom fish western pacificThe Scientific and Statistical Committee, a group of renowned fishery scientists who advise the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, concluded its two-day meeting in Honolulu this week by setting the 2016 and 2017 acceptable biological catches (ABCs) for bottomfish in the US territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The ABCs are the amount of fish that can be harvested annually by the fisheries  over time without causing overfishing of the stock. Read the rest here 12:30

Hawaii Bigeye Tuna Industry Reels Two Months after Reaching Its Quotas

HONOLULU (08 Oct. 2015) For the past two months, since early August, about a quarter of the 145 active vessels in the fishing area hawaiian long line fleet have been prohibited from catching their target species, bigeye tuna. Arbitrary quotas not linked to conservation objectives are keeping them tied at the docks. These struggling vessels and small businesses they support are accumulating millions of dollars in debt each month, causing untold anxiety for the local fishing community and consumers. This travesty has happened because of two international quota systems,,, Video, Read the rest here 08:42

WPRFMC Press Release – Milestone Reached in Setting of New Bottomfish ACLs for US Pacific Island Territories

WPFMC sidebarHONOLULU (18 Sept. 2015) A milestone was reached this week in the setting of the 2016 and 2017 annual catch limits (ACLs) for federally managed bottomfish fisheries in the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The current ACLs of 101,000 pounds; 66,800 pounds; and 228,000 pounds, respectively, for the territories were initially set for fishing year 2013 based on a 2012 stock,,, Read the rest here 19:40

Hawaii’s longline fleet dodges hurricanes – Can they survive the Enviro Tsunami?

Bigeye tuna caught by Hawaii’s longline industry is in short supply right now as the fleet dodges Hurricane Ignacio and Hurricane Jimena. Some longline vessels that headed out, turned around without catching anything to avoid the powerful storms. In August, Hawaii’s longline fleet hit the bigeye tuna catch limit of 3,502 metric tons established by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.  Conservation groups, however, have filed a lawsuit to block the change,,, Video, Read the rest here 08:23

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Address Hawai’i, American Samoa, Protected Species Issues

HONOLULU (18 March 2015) The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management CouncilWPFMC sidebar concluded the second day of its three-day meeting in Honolulu yesterday with recommendations for federally managed fisheries in Hawai’i and American Samoa as well as protected species. Federally managed fisheries operate seaward of state waters, which generally encompasses waters 0 to 3 miles from shore. Read the rest here 08:03

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Press Release 6 March 2015

WPFMC sidebarThe Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will meet March 10 to 12, 2015, to consider and make recommendations on the issues summarized – American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area Temporary Exemption – American Samoa Longline Albacore Catch Limit – 2015 US Pacific Territory Longline Bigeye Specification, Read the rest here 17:11