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Scientists meet this week to advise WesPac on fishing issues

Fishing boat docked
compiled by Samoa News staff

Honolulu, HAWAII — Scientists will meet this week — Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, 2021 — to provide advice and comments to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on tropical tuna annual catch limits, American Samoa bottonfish data, and other topics.

The meeting will be held virtually and is open to the public. The full agenda, background documents and instructions for connecting to the meeting and providing oral public comments are available at


The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will hear about U.S. preparations for the 18th Regular Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which will be held virtually Nov. 28 to Dec. 6, 2021. Key topics include a revised tropical tuna (bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack) conservation and management measure, South Pacific albacore tuna management and a U.S. proposal to strengthen international shark measures by banning wire leaders in longline fisheries, as the Council recommended this year for the Hawai‘i longline fishery.

The Permanent Advisory Committee to the U.S. delegation recommended the United States propose an increase of at least 3,000 metric tons (mt) to the current domestic longline catch limit of 3,554 mt for bigeye tuna. The increase would not exceed management objectives since nearly 10,000 mt of accepted catch among other nations goes unused annually. The Hawai‘i longline fishery has more than 20% observer coverage (international requirement is 5%), does not transship at-sea and operates in a portion of the ocean where regional depletion of bigeye tuna has been estimated to be minimal.

The WCPFC is responsible for the waters around Hawai‘i and the U.S. Pacific Islands. The Commission meets annually in December to review stock assessments and other information from sub-groups and committees that start meeting in July.


Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) will report on a data workshop held with Council and American Samoa fisheries staffs to evaluate data to be used for the next American Samoa bottomfish benchmark stock assessment to be completed in 2023. The SSC’s working group will report on their meeting with PIFSC and Council staffs on the availability, quality and appropriateness of the data for use in various stock assessment models.


The SSC will discuss reports on research that could inform future management decisions. PIFSC will describe a collaborative research program aimed at reducing depredation rates and mortality of sharks incidentally captured in small-scale fisheries around Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i Community Tagging Program (“Shark Tagger” program) was created to facilitate outreach to resource users and to bridge the gap between scientists, fishers and managers.

Another study looks at yellowfin tuna movement patterns in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. Tuna were tagged and released in specific areas to allow scientists to track their dispersion and interaction with oceanic conditions. Knowing the stock structure of these tunas helps managers make appropriate management decisions.

An SSC working group on area-based management will also present its plan to achieve the goals of the Biden Administration’s 30x30 Initiative and the United Nations’ international negotiations to conserve and sustainably use ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Recommendations made by the SSC on these and other matters will be considered by the Council when it meets Dec. 7-9, 2021, virtually, with host sites at Tedi of Samoa Building, Suite 208B, Fagatogo Village, American Samoa; BRI Building, Suite 205, Kopa Di Oru St., Garapan, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and Cliff Pointe, 304 W. O’Brien Dr., Hagatña, Guam.

Instructions on connecting to the web conference, agendas and briefing documents are posted at Host sites are subject to local and federal safety and health guidelines regarding COVID-19; check the Council website for updates.

(Source: WPFMC)