Council Seeks Release of Funds to Am Samoa

An issue which was raised at last year’s meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council in American Samoa has again been raised at the Council meeting in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas this week.

This is for NOAA to give us a portion of the fees and fines for violations of fishing regulations in territorial waters to American Samoa.

At the four day Council meeting in the CNMI its been recommended that the NOAA General Counsel for Enforcement Section work with the American Samoa Government to determine the ability to access funds from violations at the Rose Atoll MNM and the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa;

Another recommendation is for the  NOAA Office for Law Enforcement and US Coast Guard to determine the quantity and trends for US-flagged vessels reporting incursions by foreign vessels in the US EEZ in the Western Pacific Region and provide a report to the Council.

The Council has also recommended that  the US Coast Guard provide more frequent patrols of the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the Northern Western Hawaiian Islands.

The Council resolved to work with federal fishery enforcement agencies to determine additional cost-effective methods to increase enforcement of this EEZ.

In his remarks at the meeting, Acting Governor of the CNMI, Victor Hocog, decried the impact of US regulations on the local population and pointed out that before his territory became a Commonwealth and decided to become a family of the great nation of America, the CNMI had been conserving its resources….being mindful of future generations.

He called on the Council to give serious thought and consideration on how “they can work together and achieve what islanders need without compromising standards.”

Council Vice Chair McGrew Rice (Hawaii) noted that Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa have the same issues, regarding the impacts of monuments on fisheries and the inability to conduct traditional turtle practices.

He agreed with Hocog that “we have to all work together.”

Council members also brought up concerns about lack of co-management of the monument in American Samoa and lack of enforcement plans to address the proposed expansion of the NWHI monument.

American Samoa’s members on the Council are Taulapapa Willie Sword, Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele and Dr. Ruth Matagi Tofiga.

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