Pacific Islands Region Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Implementation Plan
The plan is built around the policy goals and guiding principles identified in NOAA’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy.
The Pacific Islands Region encompasses the largest geographical management area in the federal fishery management system, including all or part of three Pacific archipelagos (Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa) and seven widely spaced remote islands and atolls. All are home to diverse ecosystems and cultures where fishing forms an integral part of everyday life.
Non-commercial fishing in the Pacific Islands Region encompasses a wide range of motivations that include subsistence and traditional fisheries where marine resources are harvested for non-profit distribution within fishing communities (customary exchange), or to defray expenses to allow the continuation of fishing activities. The region also has well-established and developing for-hire fishing opportunities (e.g., deep-sea charter boats, guided reef/fly fishing, and eco-tourism).
Major Issues Facing Non-Commercial Fisheries in the Pacific Islands Region
- Communication and outreach: Fishermen seek additional transparency and open dialogue with NOAA Fisheries. Increased face-to-face interface was recommended from all areas of the region
- Loss of fishing access: The loss of fishing opportunities due to the establishment or expansion of federal sanctuaries, marine national monuments, and marine protected areas, as well as reduced shoreline access due to private ownership, coastal development, and military use
- Protected species issues: Fishermen expressed interest over depredation of catch by marine mammals and sharks and potential restrictive management to curtail protected species interactions despite low observation rates
- Infrastructure: Inadequate, damaged, or poorly maintained harbors, boat ramps, restrooms, parking, etc. were noted as a concern to fishery development and human safety in all areas
- Angler registry/Data collection: Although the difficulty in obtaining non-commercial catch, effort, and economic data due to the lack of recreational fishing licenses is recognized, general support for such a system is lacking and better methods to obtain this information are needed
Summary and List of Accomplishments
- The mahimahi diet study and punch card program were promoted through a webstory and PIRO/PIFSC staff participated in two news interviews. Dozens of anglers donated 600+ samples with roughly 75 prey species identified.
- Completed the project to characterize the recreational/non-commercial fishing communities in Hawai‘i to enhance fisherman engagement, and the report is in progress.
- The regional office is leading a systematic review of non-commercial fishing concepts in policy documents and peer-reviewed literature nationwide to better understand the full range of underrepresented fishing practices and communities in each region.
- The science center hosted bottomfish workshops in the territories to engage with fishing communities and enhance inclusion, transparency, and partnership in the stock assessment process.
- The Marine Recreational Information Program-certified Access Point Angler Intercept Survey was implemented in Hawaii in January 2023. Now both the onsite catch-rate survey and the offsite fishing effort survey in Hawaii are certified by the program.
Ongoing Work in the Pacific Islands Region
The highlights above showcase some of the major issues and projects that have been or are being addressed. However, there are still many non-commercial fishery related activities occurring on a regular basis. Our staff engage with the fishing community at formal forums such as Scientist and Fishermen Exchange and Non-commercial Fishing Advisory Committee meetings and general outreach opportunities like tournaments and expos. Collaborative efforts continue between the State of Hawaii and NOAA to better understand fishery interactions with protected species (e.g., green sea turtles and monk seals) and develop best mitigation strategies. Challenges with data collection are being addressed, especially with uku (Aprion virescens) annual catch limits now including both commercial and non-commercial landings.
Support, Maintain, and Recover Sustainable Saltwater Recreational and Non-Commercial Fisheries Resources, Including Protected Species, and Healthy Marine and Estuarine Habitats
Barbless Circle Hook Project
Encourage anglers to use barbless circle hooks to minimize hooking injury to people and protected species, and facilitate safer release of unwanted or tagged fish. The project supports guiding principles 1, 3, and 6. Metrics of success include the number of hooks distributed, number of anglers engaged, and number of events participated in.
Fish Aggregation Device Design Pilot Study
Explore feasibility of improving fish aggregating device efficiency and longevity to promote access to sustainable non-commercial fishing opportunities. The project supports guiding principles 2, 3, and 6. Metrics of success include the formation of a design committee to develop and test new device options.
Bottomfish Management Unit Species Data Workshop
Review available data for bottomfish management unit species for use in the bottomfish stock assessment with fishing communities in an open and transparent forum. The project supports guiding principles 1, 2, 5, and 6. Metrics of success include continuing to host data workshops and to engage with fishing communities and enhance inclusion, transparency, and partnership in the stock assessment process.
Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Saltwater Recreational and Non-Commercial Fishing for the Social, Cultural, and Economic Benefit of the Nation
Create Pacific Islands Region Non-Commercial Fisheries Video
Construct a short video highlighting the importance of non-commercial fisheries in the Pacific Islands Region. The project supports guiding principles 2 and 6. Metrics of success include the development and release of video to highlight the importance of non-commercial fisheries in the region.
Identify Fishing Grounds Important to the Oahu Small Boat Non-Commercial Fleet
Help mitigate future user conflict between fishermen and ocean energy producers by documenting traditional fishing grounds of the Oahu small boat fleet. This project supports guiding principles 2, 3, 5 and 6. Metrics of success include number of participating vessels, number of vessel trips and tracks reported, and development of a map documenting traditional fishing grounds.
Enable Enduring Participation In, and Enjoyment Of, Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Through Science-Based Conservation and Management
Cooperative Mahimahi Biological Sampling
Engage the non-commercial fishing community in collecting stomach samples to examine the trophic contributions of coral reef fishes as prey mahimahi in the Main Hawaiian Islands. The project supports guiding principles 5 and 6. Metrics of success include the number of samples collected, number of samples processed, and number of anglers participating.
Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) Outreach and Education
Utilize community-based social marketing to better understand the barriers to obtaining non-commercial data (especially non-responses, refusals by anglers, etc.). The project supports guiding principles 5 and 6. Metrics of success include development of a social marketing plan, number of constituent engagements, and number of constituents reached/surveys completed.
Advance Climate-Ready Policies and Programs to Respond to Climate-Driven Changes and Impacts on Fishery Resources and the Ecosystem
Tracking the Benefits of Federal Fisheries Non-Market Economies to the Nation Under Climate Change
Develop methods that track disposition of fish through seafood systems and the beneficiaries of fishing. The project supports guiding principles 4, 5, and 6. Metrics of success include report/publication on research results, list of potential disposition codes that can be used consistently on surveys and forms across all regions, and set of potential question formats tracking disposition and downstream beneficiaries that can be used consistently on surveys and forms across all regions.
Pursue and Support Equitable Treatment and Meaningful Involvement of Underserved and Underrepresented Communities in Recreational and Non-Commercial Fisheries and Stewardship
Marine Resource Education Program
Support the Pacific Island Region Marine Resource Education Program to enhance public participation in the federal fisheries science and management process. The project supports guiding principles 3 and 6. Metrics of success include the formation of a steering committee, number of workshops hosted, and number of constituent participants.
Host Hollings Scholar or Hollings Prep Program Summer Intern
Seek and encourage diverse college student candidates to participate in fisheries projects/issues, professional development, and a mentor-led experience. The project supports guiding principles 3 and 6. Metrics of success include the fulfillment of available intern positions.