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Albacore Catches Reaching MSY Pacific Islands Nations, March 18, 13

The overall catch of the Western Pacific stock of albacore tuna is reaching maximum sustainable yield, concluded the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council Friday after its three-day meeting in American Samoa, in its recommendations for the management of federally regulated fisheries in the US Pacific Islands.

One of the key issues during the meetings was the management of the American Samoa longline fishery that targets South Pacific albacore tuna. Vessels from neighbor countries, such as the Cook Islands, also fish the same albacore stock and unload at the canneries located in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The overall catch of the stock is reaching maximum sustainable yield. The Council recommended that the American Samoa fishery continue to cooperate with the regional management arrangement Te Vaka Moana (TVM), an agreement among the fishery departments of Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Independent Samoa, Tokelau and New Zealand. The Council will work to secure observer status for the American Samoa government and the Council in TVM meetings, with a goal of strengthening the conservation and management measures of the Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission (WCPFC) for the South Pacific albacore fishery across the entire range of the stock. The WCPFC measures apply only to areas south of 20 degrees South.
In regard to the WCPFC measures to address Pacific-wide overfishing of bigeye tuna, the Council recommended that NMFS develop a proposal to cap vessel capacity in the purse-seine and longline fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean and develop a proposal that considers spatial management options for the longline fisheries targeting bigeye tuna, specifically taking into account the fishing locations of the Hawaii longline fishery which is predominately in areas with low fishing mortality levels.
On the Mariana skipjack resource assessment, the council will request that the NMFS Office of Law Enforcement provide the Council with catch information from foreign vessel incursion cases that have occurred in the Western Pacific Region and that all catches from such illegal fishing activities be assessed and evaluated.