WesPac scientists explore new bottomfish management approach
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After reviewing a workshop report on American Samoa bottomfish data evaluation, The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council supported a single-species management approach for the next stock assessment scheduled for 2023.
The American Samoa bottomfish fishery is managed in an 11-species complex, which is overfished and experiencing overfishing, according to a 2019 Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) assessment. The PIFSC Stock Assessment Program reported there are sufficient data to explore the use of single-species assessments for most managed bottomfish species except for pink snapper (palu-‘ena‘ena, Pristipomoides filamentosus).
The report summarized information collected from six systems and highlighted the data quantity, quality and changes over time. The catch per unit effort data from the creel surveys and the resulting estimated catch are highly uncertain, particularly for species that are not well represented in the surveys. However, there is sufficient information for a single species, age-based assessment using length information from the PIFSC diver surveys and biosampling program, and territory boat-based creel surveys.
Creel surveys collect general fisheries data provided voluntarily by commercial and noncommercial boat and shore fishermen. Moving forward with a single-species approach may require changes in conservation and management measures.
The SSC meeting continues with discussions on pelagic and international fisheries. Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agenda and briefing documents are posted at www.wpcouncil.org/event/142nd-scientific-and-statistical-committee-virtual-meeting.
(Source: Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council)