Fishery Council Announces Recommendations for Hawaiʻi Fisheries
After a four-day meeting last week, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council announced their recommendations for nearshore fisheries in Hawai’i and Guam. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the council has authority over fisheries throughout Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and the US Pacific Remote Islands.
During the meeting, the Council prepared an amendment to the Hawai’i Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) to revise the precious corals essential fish habitat (EFH) document. The council specifically recommended revising existing seabeds and designating new seabeds as EFH for deepwater precious corals. The council also decided that the geographic extent and habitat characteristics for shallow-water precious corals should be updated.
The council recommended that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) set the MHI non-Deep 7 bottomfish ACL at 127,205 pounds and MHI deep-water shrimp ACL at 250,773 pounds for fishing years 2019-2021. The council also recommended that the NMFS set the MHI Kona crab ACL at 3,500 pounds for fishing year 2019.
For precious corals, the council recommended that the ACLs for 2019-2021 be set to 5,512 pounds for ‘Au’au Channel black coral, 2,205 pounds for Makapu’u Bed pink coral, 55 for Makapu’u Bed bamboo, 489 pounds for 180 Fathom Bank pink coral, 123 pounds for 180 Fathom Bank bamboo coral, 979 pounds for Brooks Bank pink coral, 245 pounds for Brooks Bank bamboo coral, 148 pounds for Ka’ena Point Bed pink coral, 37 pounds for Ka’ena Point Bed bamboo coral, 148 pounds for Keahole Bed pink coral, 37 pounds for Keahole Bed bamboo coral, and 2,205 pounds for precious coral in MHI exploratory area.
Another one of the council’s plans is to improve conservation and management of the Hawai’i bottomfish fishery by assessing data collection, ensuring the consistency of federal and state regulatory measures and harvest controls, as well as enhancing monitoring and enforcement procedures. The council also requested for territory and state fishery management agencies to explore electronic reporting to improve data collection for their bottomfish fisheries.
In regards to habitat related issues, the council directed staff to organize a regional workshop of experts to discuss non-fish impacts on EFH and habitat areas of particular concern before the Council Coordination Committee’s national workshop.
The council also directed staff to look at the current regulatory system for federal waters to determine the needs for developing offshore aquaculture, identifying the best sites for aquaculture, and generating funds to assist local interests to develop aquaculture in the Western Pacific Region.
The council directed staff to work with the Plan Team and research the impacts of climate and ecosystem changes to pelagic fisheries and coral reef ecosystems.
The following Council members were appointed as its officers for 2019:
- Archie Soliai: Chair
- Christina Lutu: Vice Chair, American Samoa
- Dean Sensui: Vice Chair, Hawai’i
- Michael Duenas: Vice Chair: Guam
- John Gourley: Vice Chair, CNMI