Wespac Scientific Advisors to Meet Regarding Proposed Pacific Remote Islands Sanctuary

Image: Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

Scientific advisors to the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC, Wespac) are slated to wrap up a two-day meeting in Honolulu Nov. 29 regarding several topics, including the proposed Pacific Remote Islands (PRI) sanctuary.

Also on the agenda is a call for advice on uku (blue-green snapper) essential fish habitat revision for the Hawai’i Fishery Ecosystem Plan, U.S. territorial bigeye tuna catch and allocation limits.

The council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) meeting, scheduled for Nov. 28-29, is being held remotely via web conference. The full agenda and background documents and instructions for providing oral public comments are online at www.wpcouncil.org/event/150th-scientific-and-statistical-committee.

The SSC was scheduled to review available scientific information and discuss whether the existing fishing regulations on the PRI are sufficient for a proposed national marine sanctuary. The committee may make recommendations to the council on several issues, including whether existing regulations provide enough protection for the PRI and whether there’s science to show conservation benefits that justify further fishing prohibitions.

The council said that the proposed sanctuary overlays the current PRI Marine National Monument and would create duplicative management regimes, which the council called “a waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned income.”

In September 2023, the Council preliminarily found that the existing fishing regulations under the current structure may already meet the goals and objectives of the proposed sanctuary, in alignment with the SSC’s recommendation. The Council will consider additional information at its December meeting before taking final action on the fishing regulations. The final decision is due to NOAA by Dec. 20, 2023.