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Scientists to evaluate prohibiting wire leaders in Hawaii longline fishery

By BY DONNELL TATE/Harbor Report - | Mar 26, 2021

HONOLULU — Scientists from throughout the Pacific met March 16-18, 2021, to discuss fishery management issues and make management recommendations for fisheries in the Western Pacific Region.

Wire Leader Regulatory Amendment for the Hawaii Longline Fishery — Most vessels in the Hawaii deep-set longline fishery use wire leaders in the terminal portion of the branchline between the hook and the weighted swivel to reduce the risk of crew injuries resulting from flyback. Wire leaders make it difficult to remove the terminal portion of the branch line from sharks or other protected species that cannot be brought onboard. Switching to monofilament nylon leaders would allow crew to remove gear closer to the hook and may facilitate a shark’s ability to break free by biting through the line. Tagging studies show that shorter trailing gear gives sharks a better chance of survival.

The Hawaii Longline Association announced at the December 2020 Council meeting that their member vessels will voluntarily eliminate the use of wire leaders by July 1, 2021, and use monofilament nylon leaders or other similar materials. The council is considering a regulatory change to prohibit the use of wire leaders that would be implemented after the fleet’s voluntary transition. The SSC will provide scientific advice to the council on potential impacts to target and nontarget stocks, ESA-listed oceanic whitetip sharks and other protected species, fishery participants and the range of alternatives under consideration.

Main Hawaiian Islands Deep-Seven Bottomfish Catch Limits — The Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) released an update to the main Hawaiian Islands deep-seven bottomfish stock assessment with catch-and-effort data up to 2018 and fishery-independent survey data up to 2020, indicating the stock remains healthy. The assessment provided alternative catch levels at different risk levels of overfishing from 2021 to 2025 to specify new annual catch limits. The SSC will consider the new information to determine if a change in the current acceptable biological catch (508,000 pounds) is warranted.

North Pacific Striped Marlin Catch Limits — The North Pacific striped marlin stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing, requiring the council to take steps to reduce the U.S.’ impact on the stock. The SSC will review alternatives and may recommend to the council appropriate U.S. catch and/or effort levels for North Pacific striped marlin and international recommendations to move towards ending overfishing. n North Pacific striped marlin catch from 2013 to 2017. Japanese fisheries landed three-and-a-half times that amount (almost 2.8 million pounds) per year over that same period, accounting for 60 percent of the total catch. Since 1975, U.S. fisheries have accounted for 6 percent of the historical North Pacific striped marlin catch, while Japan and Taiwan fisheries landed 83 and 9 percent, respectively.