Meeting set on management of American Samoa bottomfish and longliners
Honolulu, HAWAII — The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will convene June 22 to 25 to address management of American Samoa bottomfish and protected species interactions in the Hawai'i and American Samoa longline fisheries.
The meeting will be held by video conference with host site at the Department of Port Administration, Airport Conference Room, Pago Pago International Airport, and other venues in Guam, Saipan,CNMI and Hawaii. Instructions on connecting to Webex, agendas and briefing documents are posted at www.wpcouncil.org/meetings-calendars.
The 2019 assessment of the American Samoa bottomfish fishery indicates that the stock is overfished and subject to overfishing. The National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) notified the Council of its obligation to end overfishing immediately and develop and implement within two years a plan that would rebuild the overfished stock within 10 years.
The SSC has recommended that the Council work with American Samoa to develop management options and explore effort and biological limits and area management, as any federal measure would apply to federal waters only, i.e., beyond 3 nautical miles from shore. The SSC also recommended that the bottomfish rebuilding plan include cultural harvest in the offshore banks for deep-water snappers. With the COVID-19 pandemic, data collection efforts have been reduced with unknown consequences on the quality of data that will represent fishing year 2020.
Endangered Species Act consultations are ongoing for the Hawai'i and American Samoa longline tuna fisheries regarding interactions with protected species. Based on available scientific information, the impact by these US longline fisheries is low compared to foreign fisheries and any measure implemented in these US fisheries is likely to have a limited effect on the population. The Hawai'i-based deep-set longline fishery targeting bigeye tuna and American Samoa longline fishery targeting albacore are monitored with 20% federal observer coverage.