The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council is expected to act soon on a recommendation proposing that the 2013 annual catch limits for the CNMI's spiny lobster, slipper, Kona crab, deepwater shrimp, black coral, and other precious coral match last year's quotas.
The recommendation is one of several made by the council's Scientific and Statistical Committee or SSC, which determines the limit that can sustainably be removed from each fish stock in federally managed fisheries within U.S. Pacific Islands.
SSC also recommended that biennial annual catch limits for bottomfish in the Northern Marianas be considered based on recent stock assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Last year, it was set at 182,500 lbs.
Upon the recommendations of SSC and other advisory bodies, the council will set the 2013 annual quotas when it convenes for its 155th meeting from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 at the Laniakea YWCA-Fuller Hall in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In setting the annual catch limits, or ACLs, the council will take into account the acceptable biological catch, ABCs, together with social, economic, cultural, and management uncertainty factors and these ACLs may not exceed the ABCs.
Congress has required that federal fisheries be managed through ACLs beginning in 2012 through the 2006 reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The council, however, adopted a “precautionary approach” in specifying the 2012 ACLs given the available data, which only covers a limited amount of the total fishing mortality in the Western Pacific Region.
The agenda for next week's meeting will include the management of the gold coral fishery in the Western Pacific Region, which has been under a five-year moratorium that will expire on Sept. 11, 2013; the review of the Science Plan for the NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, which will guide decision-making within the agency, increase transparency, and identify core monitoring and research activities to be conducted under stringent budget scenarios; and the review of research on the connectivity of main Hawaiian Islands bottomfish stocks.
For more information, visit www.wpcouncil.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (808) 522-8220 or fax (808) 522-8226.