NOAA 2001-R103
Contact: Gordon Helm


NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service recently released for public comment a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Fishery Management Plan for coral reef ecosystems in the Western Pacific.

The fishery management plan, developed by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, addresses the need for balanced use and management of coral reefs in the Western Pacific. The plan is the first-ever ecosystem-based plan for fisheries developed in the U.S.

"We commend the Western Pacific Council for its work on this innovative and significant management plan," said Bill Hogarth, acting assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. "The plan allows us to balance the need to protect coral reefs and thousands of reef associated species while we continue to address potential management needs of Western Pacific Coral Reef ecosystems."

The management areas addressed in the fishery management plan, including the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, Pacific Remote Island areas, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa have been minimally exploited to date, although there has been interest expressed for fisheries to expand in these areas. Potential management issues include the expansion of nearshore fisheries for coral reef species, new fisheries for the live fish markets in Southeast Asia, the expansion of coral and "live rock" fisheries for the U.S. aquarium trade and the development of fisheries for pharmaceutical applications.

The proposed plan includes the following management measures:

  • Establish fishing permit and reporting requirements.
  • Specify the use of selective, non-destructive gears and methods for harvesting management unit species.
  • Designate marine protected areas, including no-take marine reserves as well as areas zoned for specific fishing activities.
  • Establish a framework process to allow for future regulatory adjustments to the coral reef ecosystem management program.

The plan would establish a formal process to allow the various fishery management plan teams – including fisheries for pelagics, crustaceans, bottomfish and seamount groundfish and precious corals – to coordinate their discussion of relevant fishery issues with the coral reef ecosystem plan team. The plan also would facilitate consistent State and territorial level management of coral reef resources; create social, economic and political incentives for sustainable use and disincentives for non-sustainable use of coral reef resources; and foster education, public outreach and coral reef management diplomacy.

The report is available on line at: http ;// or by calling the council office at (808) 522-8220. Public hearings will be held in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. Specific meeting locations are available online or by calling the council office.

Written comments will be accepted through Feb. 26, 2001. Written comments and requests to be included on a mailing list of persons interested in the DEIS/EIS should be sent to Kitty Simonds, Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, 1164 Bishop Street, Room 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813. Comments also may be faxed to 808-522-8226. Comments will not be accepted if submitted via e-mail or the Internet.