Fisheries Council to consider final action on LVPA options in upcoming council meeting
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Among the action items for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council to consider at its 173 Meeting from June 11 to 13 at Wailea Beach Resort on Maui Island, Hawai’i is the Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA) in waters of American Samoa.
The LVPA has become a contentious issue in American Samoa — the LVPA was created more than 15 years ago to protect the local alia fleet.
However, the Council recommended and the US National Marine Fisheries Service approved in 2016 a reduction of the LVPA that promoted a federal lawsuit by the Territory of American Samoa, through ASG, at the federal court in Honolulu where a judge ruled last year that the 2016 LVPA rule was invalid.
At the 172th Meeting in Honolulu in March this year, the Council postponed final action on the LVPA.
So at its 173rd meeting next week in Maui, the Council will consider taking final action on LVPA options that may improve economic efficiency of the larger longline vessels while taking into consideration, among other things, the need to prevent overfishing, impacts on small vessels and protecting American Samoa cultural fishing practices.
This action addresses continued poor economic performance in the American Samoa longline fishery and regulations that may unnecessarily restrict fleet movement and harm fishing efficiency, according to the Council’s news release which outlines al action items for the meeting including the LVPA.
The Council will consider the following LVPA options:
1. Status Quo: Maintain LVPA regulations, which generally prohibit pelagic fishing vessels greater than 50 feet in length from fishing within 50 nautical miles (nm) around Tutuila, Manu'a Islands and Swains Island
2. Exempt areas seaward from 25 nm north of Tutuila and Manu'a Islands, within designated areas south of Tutuila and Manu'a Islands and seaward from 12 nm around Swains Island
3. Exempt areas seaward from 25 nm of Tutuila, Manu'a Islands and Swains Island
4. Exempt areas seaward from 25 nm of Tutuila and Manu'a Islands and seaward from 12 nm of Swains Island
5. Exempt areas seaward of 12 nm around Tutuila, Manu'a Islands and Swains Island (Council 2015 preferred alternative)
6. Exempt areas seaward from 12 nm around Tutuila, Manu'a Islands and Swains Island and 2 nm around offshore banks (Council 2017 preferred alternative)
7. Exempt areas throughout the LVPA
Meanwhile, the American Samoa Advisory Panel, one of the advisory bodies to the Council has submitted its report on the outcome of its May 24th meeting held in the territory. One of the issues on the report is the LVPA, in which it recommended the Council select Alternative Six, or options six.
Samoa News notes that American Samoa’s current three members on the Council are: Christinna Lutu-Sanchez of Longline Services, Inc.; StarKist Samoa official, Taotasi Archie Soliai and Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources director Va’amua Henry Sesepasara, who is also the ASG representative.