WPRMFC gives Trump Administration suggestions to promote seafood
The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRMFC) has suggested actions to the Trump Administration in order to “promote seafood competitiveness and economic growth and to provide regulatory relief to support economic recovery for the offshore fisheries of Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and eight Pacific Remote Islands (PRIAs),” according to a WPRFMC press release.
Two parties voted against the proposals: the council member representing the Hawai’i State Department of Land and Natural Resources, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Regional Administrator.
WPRMFC’s recommendations are in response to two executive orders (13921 and 13924) which call for the removal of burdensome regulations and improve the efficacy of environmental reviews, and request that the country’s eight regional fishery management councils provide a list of recommendations for reducing the burden on domestic fisheries and improve sustainable fishery production.
The council wishes to improve implementation of the Endangered Species Act due to three seasons of longline fishing being restricted to protect loggerhead turtles, the majority of which, WPRMFC noted, are released alive when caught as allowable incidental catch.
The council also proposed to remove the prohibitions against fishing in four marine national monuments in the Pacific and to return the management of federally-regulated fisheries in those waters to be governed by the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Additionally, the council recommended exempting manmade areas (harbors, for example) as being classified essential fish habitats (EFHs), which could help to shorten delays to maintain or improve them due to their classifications as EFHs.
According to Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council Sylvia Spalding, “the [Hawaii] Department of Land and Natural Resources representative's opposition was to lifting the fishing prohibitions in the marine national monuments. The NMFS Regional Administrator was opposed for that reason as well as for the recommendation to exclude harbors and degraded environments from the essential fish habitat definition.” The meeting to decide on the proposals was held virtually last week.