Scientists to address 2020 bigeye tuna and bottomfish catches for US Pacific territories
HONOLULU — Scientists from throughout the Pacific will meet March 3-5 in Honolulu to discuss allocation limits for longline-caught bigeye tuna in American Samoa, Guam, and CNMI. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will convene 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400. The meeting is open to the public.
GUAM, CNMI AND AMERICAN SAMOA LONGLINE-CAUGHT BIGEYE TUNA: Conservation and management measures for Western and Central Pacific bigeye tuna are developed by the international Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). The WCPFC has developed specific national quotas for longline-caught bigeye tuna for six member countries, including the United States.
However, no quotas are specified for small island developing states (SIDS) and territories (including American Samoa, Guam and the CNMI) in recognition of their aspirations to develop their fisheries.
Although not required by the Commission, the Council developed quotas for the US Pacific Territories.
Also established was a management framework that allows the US Territories to allocate a portion of their catch limits through Specified Fishing Agreements with US vessels permitted under the Pelagic Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the purposes of responsible fisheries development in the Territories.
The current catch limits are 2,000 metric tons (mt) per Territory of which up to 1,000 mt can be allocated. The SSC will review the bigeye longline catch and allocation limits and may make recommendations to the Council to adjust them.
They will also be asscesing acceptable catch of bottomfish in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
OTHER ITEMS ON THE SSC AGENDA
• American Samoa, Guam and CNMI Bottomfish Management: The original Bottomfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Western Pacific Region listed 20 fish species that dominated the landings, which included both shallow and deep-water species. The bottomfish were grouped into a single complex for management purposes. In 2009, the bottomfish management unit species (BMUS) were amended as part of the restructuring of the Council's FMPs into place-based Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs). American Samoa, Guam and CNMI each had its own BMUS list, which continued to be treated as a complex for management purposes. The BMUS lists for the territories were most recently revised in 2018 when some MUS were designated as Ecosystem Component Species, which do not require ACLs. The territory bottomfish fisheries have evolved over time, which may warrant further amendments of the BMUS.
• Rebuilding Plan: The release of the 2019 benchmark stock assessment for the territory bottomfish fishery triggered the development of a rebuilding plan for the American Samoa and Guam bottomfish that were considered overfished. This is the first rebuilding plan that will be developed for the region. The SSC is scheduled to discuss its role in the rebuilding plan development process and determine the scientific information needed to develop the plan.
• Electronic Reporting: The SSC will review and make recommendations to the Council on reporting requirements, cost allocation, and data management of electronic reporting in the Hawaii longline fishery.
Recommendations made by the SSC on these and other matters will be considered by the Council when it meets March 10 to 12, 2020, at the YWCA Atherton Hall, 1040 Richards St., Honolulu. For agendas and briefing documents for the SSC, Council and related advisory body meetings, go to http://www.wpcouncil.org/public-meetings/ or contact the Council at email@example.com or call (808) 522-8220.