June 23, 2015 — The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is calling for improved terms in the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT) for the Pago-based purse seiner fleet. Winding up its 163rd meeting on Thursday in Honolulu, the Council made several recommendations to address increasingly restricted catch limits on US purse seine and longline vessels in the Western and Pacific Ocean (WCPO).
In a press statement made over the weekend, the Council recognized that the combination of the US high seas purse-seine effort limits by the international Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the removal of historic levels of fishing days in Kiribati waters available under the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT) may be resulting in reduced supply of tuna offloaded directly to the Pago Pago canneries by US purse-seine vessels.
The Council recommended that NMFS and the State Department improve the current terms of the SPTT with regards to Pago Pago-based US purse seiners. The Council also recommended that NMFS consider developing regulations that would allow fishing effort or catch from Pago Pago-based US purse vessels to be attributed to American Samoa but without an increase in bigeye landed by these vessels.