Fishermen grapple with changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Honolulu, HAWAII — Changes affecting fishing communities due to COVID-19 closures, mandatory electronic reporting for the American Samoa longline fishery and the 2019 annual status of the fisheries report were among topics discussed by fishermen from Hawai'i, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) during their May 29, May 30 and June 6 virtual meetings. The groups constitute the Advisory Panels (APs) of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
In addition, the Hawai'i AP noted that the biological distribution of marine species had shifted due to the lack of tourism-related activities, especially in the nearshore areas, and requested that impacts from COVID-19 be included in the 2020 annual fisheries report. The American Samoa AP recommended that the Council ask the National Marine Fisheries Service work with the American Samoa longline fishery to begin implementation of electronic reporting as soon as possible and set a target date of mandatory reporting for Oct. 1, 2021.
The Guam AP discussed the launch of the Council's new electronic data reporting app that allows commercial and non-commercial fishermen to collect and have access to their data in near-real-time, while helping scientists and managers more effectively manage the marine resources. The CNMI AP recommended that the Council request the removal of the fishing prohibitions in the Marine National Monuments in response to the president's Executive Order 13921.
AP members represent diverse fisheries, including spearfish, longline, bottomfish, charter boat, subsistence and the fishery media. The AP is mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The Council will consider the AP recommendations when it meets virtually June 23 to 25, 2020. For agendas and background materials on the AP and Council meetings, visit www.wpcouncil.org/meetings-calendars or contact the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (808) 522-8220.
Advisory Panels: American Samoa: Joseph Fa'aita, Sam Meleisea, Dustin Snow, William Sword, Brian Thompson, Nonu Tuisamoa; CNMI: Richard Farrell, Michael Fleming, Perry Mesngon, Cecilio Raiukiulipiy, Ray Tebuteb, Jun Yamagishi; Guam: Judith Amesbury, James Borja, Ken Borja, Myles Driscoll, Jason Miller, Matthew Orot; Hawai'i: Nathan Abe, Khang Dang, Eddie Ebisui III, Carrie Johnston, Gil Kuali'i, Clay Tam.