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WesPac to consider the Pacific Insular Area Fishery Agreement

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council LOGO
Agreement would allow foreign fishing within the 200-mile U.S EEZ

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 199th meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council will convene in-person June 24-26, 2024, at the Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Ballroom, in Honolulu, HI.

The Council will consider and may take action on two issues, including any public comments on them. On the agenda are Options for Specifying Main Hawaiian Islands Deep 7 Bottomfish and of special interest to the territory, the American Samoa Marine Conservation Plan.


The Council is authorized by the Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Secretary of Commerce to negotiate and enter into a Pacific Insular Area Fishery Agreement (PIAFA).

A PIAFA would allow foreign fishing within the 200-mile U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around American Samoa, the CNMI, Guam or the PRIA with the concurrence of, and in consultation with, the applicable governors.

According to the MSA, before entering into a PIAFA, the appropriate governor, with the concurrence of the Council, must develop a three-year MCP providing details on uses for any funds collected by the Secretary under the PIAFA.

In addition to PIAFA funds, the MSA provides that fines and penalties of violations by foreign vessels occurring within the EEZ around the Pacific Insular Areas, including sums collected from forfeiture and disposition or sale of property seized by the federal government, are to be deposited into the applicable local government’s treasury and to be used to implement the respective MCP.

Also authorized by the MSA is the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund, which allows the Council to use funds to implement MCP projects. 

The MSA requires that the MCPs shall be consistent with the Council’s FEPs. The MSA also requires that the MCP include, but not be limited to, the following conservation and management objectives:

     i.    Pacific Insular Area observer programs, or other monitoring programs, that the Secretary determines are adequate to monitor the harvest, bycatch and compliance with the laws of the United States by foreign fishing vessels that fish under Pacific Insular Area fishing agreements;

     ii.   Conduct of marine and fisheries research, including development of systems for information collection, analysis, evaluation and reporting;

   iii.    Conservation, education and enforcement activities related to marine and coastal management, such as living marine resource assessments, habitat monitoring and coastal studies;

   iv.    Education and training in the development and implementation of sustainable marine resources development projects, scientific research, and conservation strategies; and

     v.   Western Pacific community-based demonstration projects under section 112(b) of the Sustainable Fisheries Act and other coastal improvement projects to foster and promote the management, conservation and economic enhancement of the Pacific Insular Areas.

The Marine Conservation Plan (MCP) for American Samoa expires in July 2024. At its 199th meeting, the Council will review the MCPs for concurrence and approval. After review by the Council, the Governor transmits the MCP to the Secretary of Commerce for approval. If approved by the Council and Secretary of Commerce, the MCP is valid for three years; however, an MCP can be modified at any time and resubmitted for approval.

Remote participation option will be available by web conference (Webex).  

Written public comments on final action items should be received by the Council’s executive director by 5 p.m. (HST), Thursday, June 20, 2024, by postal mail, fax or email:

Mail:  Ms. Kitty M. Simonds, Executive Director

Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council

1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813

FAX:  (808) 522-8226