No change recommended to US Pacific bigeye limits

Distribution of bigeye catch (2003-2012) by method Distribution of bigeye catch (2003-2012) by method

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has recommended that the US Participating Territory longline-caught bigeye tuna limits remain at 2,000 metric tonnes per territory for 2017.

Territory longline-caught bigeye tuna limits are required to be reviewed and recommended on an annual basis due to Amendment 7.

Transference of a portion of their quota provides the Territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands (CNMI) with funding for fisheries development projects in their respective Marine Conservation Plans.

Hawaii longline vessels are subject to US longline-caught bigeye tuna quota of which the United States is a member.

This is 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).

In recent years, Hawaii has reached the US quota progressively earlier in the year. NOAA analysis presented yesterday indicates that this is due to increased size and higher catch rates of bigeye tuna in the fishery.

The Council voted to recommend that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) continue to develop a draft proposal to present at the WCPFC that would include spatial longline bigeye catch limits, which take into account sub-regional exploitation rates.

The Hawaii longline fishery operates principally in sub-region two, which has among the lowest bigeye exploitation rates in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

The WCPFC will meet in December to consider tropical tuna measures for 2017 and beyond.

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