Western Pacific Fishery Management Council Director Plans to Step Down

Kitty Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (commonly known as Wespac) has said that after 40 years at the helm, she plans to step down from her position after a successor has been found.

In mid-October, Simonds told the Honolulu Civil Beat news website that she’s not ready to reveal the identities of any of her possible successors or the people that she and others have had conversations with about the position, but indicated that the process has already been in progress for months.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by Congress in 1976. It has authority over fisheries seaward of state/territorial waters of Hawai’i and the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Wespac’s primary role is to prepare, monitor and amend management plans for offshore fisheries based in the Western Pacific Region. Each plan contains a suite of management measures and associated regulations that have been implemented to support sustainable fisheries, reduce and mitigate interactions with protected species and conserve marine habitat and ecosystems.

Its jurisdiction includes the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters (generally 3–200 miles offshore) around the state of Hawaii; the U.S. Territories American Samoa and Guam; the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); and the U.S. Pacific remote island areas of Johnston, Midway, Palmyra and Wake Atolls; Baker, Howland and Jarvis Islands; and Kingman Reef.

The full area is about 1.5 million square miles.

Simonds, who’s in her late 70s, has been the organization’s leader since 1983.