Page 17 - Keeping Hawaii Seafood Sustainable

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What about when overfishing
is occurring in a wide-ranging
fish population?
Pacific tuna and swordfish swim widely
across the ocean and are harvested by
the fleets of many nations. The Pacific
bigeye tuna is an example. According
to our scientists, the Pacific bigeye tuna
population is not overfished, but over-
fishing is occurring. Fishery managers
agree that catch reduction is required.
The question is should all fleets share
in the catch reduction proportionally?
Or should those fleets that fish
responsibly be treated preferentially
in international negotiations for harvest
levels? There can be no clearer incentive
or message to fleets that do not fish
responsibly than reducing their catch
limits until they contribute to the pre-
vention of overfishing and responsible
science-based fishery management.
Hawaii Longline Fishery–
A Sentinel for Others
Hawaii longline fisheries are the most
intensively monitored pelagic fisheries
in the Pacific Ocean. This is done with
detailed logbook reporting on every
longline set, shipboard observers
on over 20% of tuna trips and 100%
of swordfish trips, vessel location
monitoring systems and other federal
management requirements. The goal
of the Western and Central Pacific
Fisheries Commission is for all nations
longline fishing in the management
area to achieve 5% observer coverage
by June 30, 2012 (WCPFC 2007). The
Hawaii longline fleet represents only
3% of the Pacific bigeye longline fish-
ing effort but has already exceeded
the 5% goal generating a substantial
proportion of all available observer
data. This makes Hawaii the primary
source of high-quality at-sea fishery
observer data for the entire multi-
national Pacific longline fishery at this
time. Any reduction in this critical
supply of reliable data increases
uncertainty, is counter to the precau-
tionary approach and degrades the
quality of science-based management.
Hawaii is a leader in sustainable
fisheries management and should
be recognized for its performance.
Well-managed fisheries must be
rewarded with preferential shares
of the sustainable catch. This is the
only practical way to achieve the
rapid adoption of responsible fisheries
management and operations by all
fleets in order to effectively prevent
overfishing on shared stocks. Hawaii
longline fisheries should continue to
serve as a data-rich sentinel fishery
while other nations’ fleets in the
western and central Pacific Ocean
strive to establish the necessary
observer programs, data collection,
reporting, quality control and analytical
capabilities needed to make their
contribution to sustainable manage-
ment of shared fishery resources.
Photo: John Kaneko
Photo: John Kaneko