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Fishery managers to take up marine monument fishing regs

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which makes recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce for the management of fisheries in federal waters surround the U.S. Pacific Islands, convenes on Monday, March 5, from 8:30am to 5pm, and on March 6, from 9am to 5pm at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan in the CNMI and on March 8, from 8:30am to 5pm and on March 9, from 9am to 5pm, at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa, Tumon Bay, Guam.

Joining the council members from the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Territories of CNMI, Guam, and American Samoa will be National Marine Fisheries Service acting administrator Sam Rauch.

One of the key agenda items for the meeting is the draft fishery management measures for the Marianas Trench (CNMI and Guam), Rose Atoll (American Samoa) and Pacific Remote Island Area (Howland, Baker and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Wake and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman Reef) Marine National Monuments.

The existing draft measures provide a basis for identifying customary exchange as important to traditional indigenous fishing in the region.

NMFS has suggested that the Council consider revising the definition to exclude, or clearly limit, cost recovery of trip expenses as well as consider imposing bag limits for non-commercial fishing.

NMFS has also suggested that the council consider clarifying the definition of “non-commercial fishing” to specify that traditional indigenous fishing is limited to traditionally and culturally significant fishing practices in existence at the time the monuments were established.

In addition, NMFS recommended that the no-fishing zones around the Pacific Remote Island Areas, as currently drafted, are inconsistent with the proclamations, particularly with respect to Palmyra Atoll where noncommercial fishing is currently permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Other major agenda items are options for an American Samoa shallow-set longline fishery and Western and Central Pacific bigeye tuna management as well as issues related to existing and potential future impacts to fishing communities from military activities in the Mariana archipelago. Fishers Forums on Climate Change will be held from 6pm to 9pm on March 5 at the Saipan Fiesta Resort and 6pm to 9pm on March 8 at the Hilton Guam Resort. The public is invited to attend these informational and public discussion sessions. For more complete agendas, visit or contact the Council at or by phone at (808) 522-8220. (WESPAC)