April 4, 2017 — The following was released by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council:
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council recently concluded its 169th meeting in Honolulu, during which S.396, an amendment to the Billfish Conservation Act (BCA), was discussed. The proposed amendment would shut down the long established U.S. market for U.S. fisheries operating within the Western Pacific Region (Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands).
North Pacific blue marlin, which comprises the largest component of non-swordfish billfish landings in the Western Pacific Region, is not experiencing overfishing nor is it in an overfished condition. In the Atlantic, blue marlin is both overfished and is subject to overfishing. Marlin and other billfish sent from Hawaii to the US mainland are required to have a Billfish Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which identifies the fishing vessel, its homeport and the port and date of offloading. Hawaii markets about 550,000 lbs. of billfish per year to the U.S. mainland, worth about $600,000 annually in wholesale value. The Western Pacific Region also has an industry of value added billfish products such as smoked marlin and marlin paté, jerky and sausages.
The Council voted to send a letter to the Secretary of Commerce on the stock status of Pacific billfish and the economic impact of the introduced amendment. The Council also noted that US mainland sport fishing tournaments target billfish and is requesting that the National Marine Fisheries Service provide information on the estimated number of billfish killed in these US mainland tournaments and whether or not the billfish retained goes to local consumption.