U.S. Fisheries Service Proposes Longline Catch Limits For Bigeye Tuna

1,000 of 2,000 metric ton limit per territory can be allocated to U.S. vessels

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 16, 2016) – The US National Marine Fishery Service is proposing to set limits for 2016 for long-line-caught bigeye tuna in the US territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The proposed rule, for which comments are being accepted up to July 22, was published last week Friday on the federal portal (www.regulations.gov).

NMFS says it proposes a 2016 limit of 2,000 metric tons (mt) of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each of the three Pacific territories. Additionally, the federal agency would allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a specified fishing agreement that meets established criteria.

According to the agency, the proposed catch limits and accountability measures would support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The proposed limits for 2016 are the same as last year.

NMFS says the proposed action would directly apply to longline vessels federally permitted under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific  — specifically Hawaii longline limited entry, American Samoa longline limited entry, and Western Pacific general longline permit holders. As of June 2016 for American Samoa, 40 longline vessels possess limited entry permits out of 60 total permits.

Background information on American Samoa’s longline provided in NMFS documents states that in 2013, 22 American Samoa longline vessels turned in logbooks reporting the landing of 162,444 pelagic fish (approximately 6 million lbs) valued at $6,772,386.

Albacore — which is sold to the local canneries — made up the largest proportion of pelagic landings in American Samoa at 4,525,453 lbs and bigeye tuna comprised187,954 lbs, according to NMFS documents.

With 22 active longline vessels, the ex-vessel value of pelagic fish caught by the American Samoa longline fishery averaged about $307,836 per vessel in 2013, it says.

The Samoa News
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