May 4-5, 2017
NOAA Fisheries is committed to:
Sustainable saltwater recreational fisheries resources.
Promoting saltwater recreational fisheries for the benefit of the nation.
Enabling enduring participation through science based conservation and management.
The Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) hosted its second recreational and non-commercial fisheries roundtable on May 4th and 5th 2017; the eighth of nine regional meetings held nationwide. The common themes emerging from the regional meetings will be included in the national summary following the completion of all nine roundtables, and considered in the development of the agenda for the upcoming Recreational Fishing Summit scheduled for the spring of 2018.
At the previous Pacific Island Region (PIR) roundtable held in February 2013, discussions focused on identifying priorities and projects to improve recreational and non-commercial fisheries in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), Guam, and Hawai’i. The purpose of the 2017 roundtable was to continue building a strong partnership between recreational and non-commercial fishermen and NOAA Fisheries by listening to the concerns and interests of area fishermen and collaboratively exploring solutions through open dialogue.
Day 1 of the meeting began with a recap of past stakeholder participation and series of events that contributed to the development of the priorities and projects included in the 2016-2017 PIR Implementation Plan (IP). A report on the status of each of the 27 projects listed in the IP, and a summary of responses to a pre-roundtable questionnaire submitted by non-government participants, came after the chronological review. Questionnaire responses served to focus discussion on matters of highest interest in the region and provided the following generalized feedback:
The most important steps NOAA Fisheries can take to improve its relationship with recreational and non-commercial fishermen include:
Supporting increased communication and face-to-face engagement.
Addressing the diversity of non-commercial anglers.
Conducting more localized outreach.
Building trust by including stakeholders in the decision-making process.
Fostering cooperative management.
Increasing fishing opportunities rather than regulations and restrictions.
The current primary issues of concern are:
Access to fishing opportunities.
Transparency and reliability of data collection and reporting.
Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) programs.
Engagement with fishing communities.
Expansion of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Condition of fishing access infrastructure.
Influence of Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs).
Non-fishing stressors such as non-point pollution, marine debris, and invasive species.
2016-2017 Implementation Plan priorities in order of highest importance are:
Preserving high quality and sustainable recreational and non-commercial fishing opportunities.
Improving data collection and involvement of fishermen in designing future fishery research priorities and initiatives.
Integrating fishing practices of the various fishing cultures and communities of the Pacific Islands.
Increasing angler registration or establishing licensing or reporting mechanisms.
Bringing awareness to protected species issues.
Addressing perceptions about recreational and non-commercial fishing in marine protected areas and sanctuaries.
Evaluating fishing access and infrastructure.
Continuing or expanding communication and outreach efforts.
Subsequent discussions connected past and current recreational and non-commercial fisheries issues and priorities, and participants provided comments and suggestions for each of the 27 projects going forward. The input will help to 1) identify potential gaps and overlaps with current strategies and partners, 2) recalibrate priorities and approaches if necessary, 3) improve execution of deliverables, and 4) ensure timely completion of the individual projects. Project elimination is also a possibility if it is no longer a priority, or lacks the necessary funding to move forward.
Day 2 of the roundtable included a presentation about the variety of funding opportunities that the PIRO Federal Programs Office administers in support of the NOAA Fisheries mission; and a discussion of current communications and education efforts related to non-commercial fishing that need special or additional attention.
Prior to the close of the 2017 Roundtable, participants were asked to describe “…what keeps them up at night concerning recreational and non-commercial fishing in our region”. “Youth engagement” and “sustainability” are two primary issues, and are recurring themes raised at the other roundtables across the nation. The overall sense is participation in recreational and non-commercial fishing activities in the Pacific Islands is decreasing because the younger generation is not as involved in fishing activities as their older counterparts, and do not recognize the importance of staying closely connected to their cultural and traditional food sources. In order to reverse this trend, increased participation and collaboration by stakeholders on both sides of the issues need to stay informed and engaged.
NOAA PIRO recognizes the fundamental role that recreational and non-commercial fishing plays in the lives and livelihoods of Pacific Islanders. Working alongside fishermen, partners, and others, PIRO will continue its mission to conserve the fish populations and protect our unique fishing traditions.