March 23, 2017 — SEAFOOD NEWS — At this week’s Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council in Honolulu, members are developing new fishing rules for the marine national monument that was expanded last year and decided which species will be under federal management as components of the area’s ecosystem.
The Presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act that expanded the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument calls for closing offshore commercial fisheries from 50 to 200 miles around the NWHI, an area twice the size of Texas. The Council includes the local fishery department directors from Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), fishing experts appointed by the Governors and federal agencies involved in fishing-related activities. The meeting runs through tomorrow and is open to the public.
The Presidential proclamation under the Antiquities Act that expanded the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument calls for closing offshore commercial fisheries from 50 to 200 miles around the NWHI, an area twice the size of Texas.
The Hawai’i-based longline fleet is expected to redirect its fishing efforts to the high seas (beyond 200 miles from shore) or into the allowable longline fishing area 50 to 200 miles offshore around the main Hawaiian Islands. The Hawai’i longline fleet, which catches bigeye tuna and swordfish, is banned from 0 to 50 miles throughout Hawai’i.
While the Presidential proclamation bans commercial fishing around the NWHI, it allows regulated non-commercial and Native Hawaiian subsistence fishing.
This week the Council is considering the results of public scoping meetings that were conducted throughout Hawai’i in December as well as the recommendations of its advisory bodies.
The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), which met March 7 to 9 in Honolulu, recommends that existing data, such as data from the former sport-fishing operation at Midway Atoll in the NWHI and the Hawaii tuna tagging project, be explored.
The SSC also recommends that potential impact on protected species be considered as fishing effort is redistributed.
The Council advisory bodies jointly support the removal of fishing provisions in the NWHI as well as other marine monuments in the region: Rose Atoll (American Samoa), Marianas Trench (CNMI) and Pacific Remote Islands (the US atoll and island possessions of Johnston, Palmyra, Wake, Baker, Howland, Jarvis and Kingman Reef). The group recommends that the Council continue to express its concerns to the new Administration regarding the impacts to fisheries from the monument designations and their expansions as well from military closures and other marine protected areas in the region.
In addition to management of the monument, the Council will determine which of the thousands of marine species in the region will be managed using annual catch limits as targeted fish species, and which will be managed using other tools (for example, minimum sizes and seasonal closures) as ecosystem component species. The Council may endorse the SSC recommendation to form an expert working group to ensure the final listings take into account species of social, cultural, economic, biological and ecological importance.
As part of the Council meeting, a Fishers Forum on Using Fishers Knowledge to Inform Fisheries Management will be held 6 to 9 p.m. on March 22 at the Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom. The event includes informational booths, panel presentations and public discussion.
This story originally appeared on Seafoodnews.com, a subscription site. It is reprinted with permission.