21 October, 2016, 12:00 am
HONOLULU – The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council recommended that the US participating territory longline-caught bigeye tuna limits remain at 2000 metric tonnes per territory for 2017.
Pending approval by the US Government, the territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are authorised to allocate about 1000 tonnes of their limit to US fishermen through specified fishing agreements as authorised under amendment seven of the pelagic fishery ecosystem plan for the western Pacific region.
The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, requires that the territory longline-caught bigeye tuna limits be reviewed and recommended on an annual basis.
“The transfers also help to stabilise Hawaii’s local fresh tuna market,” said council executive director Kitty Simonds.
Bigeye tuna weights and catch-per-unit-effort numbers resulting in recent earlier reaching of US longline-caught bigeye quota by the Hawaii fishery.
Hawaii longline vessels are subject to US longline-caught bigeye tuna quota, based on Hawaii’s 2004 catch and incrementally decreased per the conservation and management measures developed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), of which the US is a member.
In recent years, Hawaii has reached the US quota progressively earlier in the year. US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration analysis presented at a Oct. 13 meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii indicates that this is because of increased size and higher catch rates of bigeye tuna in the fishery.
WCPFC will meet in December to consider tropical tuna measures for 2017 and beyond.