Guam Not Paid Directly For Selling Tuna Quota

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

$200,000 from Hawai‘i longliners indirectly funds projects

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 23, 2015) – Hawaii longline fishermen’s $200,000 payment to use half of Guam’s bigeye tuna catch limit isn’t being paid to Guam directly.

Federal regulations require that payment to be deposited into the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund, which in turn pays for fishery development projects for Guam, said Sylvia Spalding, communications officer for the Honolulu-based Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is one of eight that Congress established in 1976 to have authority over fisheries in their respective jurisdictions. The Western Pacific council includes Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas.

Hawaii has exceeded its catch limit of 3,500 metric tons for this year, so it’s using half of Guam’s quota of 2,000 metric tons of bigeye tuna catch for the remaining month of the year. Without using Guam’s quota, Hawaii would have faced a shortage of fish for sashimi and other popular holiday dishes, according to The Associated Press.

Environmentalists have criticized the process that allows Hawaii bigeye tuna fishermen to use a loophole by using quotas for other jurisdictions like Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa.

David Henkin, an attorney for Earthjustice, said, according to the AP report, that all developed fisheries — like Hawaii’s longline fishery — need to reduce their catch to make sure bigeye is available for future generations.

Guam isn’t losing out by allowing Hawaii to use part of its quota because Guam fishermen haven’t been able to catch bigeye tuna on a large scale, said Manny Duenas, president of the Guam Fishermen’s Co-op, in a previous interview.

Guam fishermen catch about 50 metric tons of different varieties of fish in a year, but bigeye tuna is rarely caught because the island doesn’t have the capability to catch bigeye, or "ahi" for commercial purposes, Duenas said.

By allowing Hawaii longline fishermen to catch ahi in Guam’s name, there will be a record of bigeye catch for Guam.

Having that record may help ensure that Guam’s quota won’t be taken away in succeeding years — in the event future generations of Guam fishermen would have the capability to catch bigeye tuna, Duenas has said.

The government of Guam, through the governor’s office, provides input on what programs money from the fund could pay for.

Guam has a long list of projects that were identified and submitted to the council in 2014, so it’s unlikely that a new wish list would be put together soon — even with Hawaii’s $200,000 payment.

Twenty projects listed in Guam’s 2014 Marine Conservation Plan identify 10 high-priority, six medium-priority and four low-priority projects.

The top priority was the rehabilitation and improvement to the Agat small boat marina’s Dock A. Improvements to Dock A, estimated at $300,000, are complete.

A proposed $330,000 fishing platform that will be accessible to people with disabilities; and a $150,000 mañahak, or rabbit fish, hatchery and restocking facility are also high priorities, and are "ongoing in their implementation," according to Guam’s plan.

The proposed construction of a $3.5 million Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Marine Building Complex is listed as a medium priority and ranked 13th overall out of the 20 priority projects that would be funded with money from the Western Pacific Sustainable Fisheries Fund.

The fund also receives money from fines and other payments related to violations within Guam’s exclusive economic zone, which covers 84,170 square miles.

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