Fishery council holds off action on Guam bottomfish stock rebuilding plan

Honolulu-- The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on Thursday deferred action on the Guam bottomfish stock rebuilding plan to a future meeting in Honolulu.

This allows for a coordinated effort among the relevant agencies to finalize the council’s rebuilding plan and develop the territory’s Bottomfish Fishery Management Plan—essential to ensure the stock is rebuilt in the shortest time possible, not more than 10 years, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

A National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 2019 stock assessment determined the Guam bottomfish stock to be overfished. In December 2020, the Council chose a preferred alternative annual catch limit of 31,000 lbs

. The stock would be rebuilt within six (6) years if catches are kept below that limit. NMFS updated its biomass projection in January 2021, which resulted in a rebuilding projection of 19 years instead of six years.

An alternative that addresses the rebuilding requirement is an ACL of 27,000 pounds. If catch is kept below this level, the stock would rebuild in eight (8) years. Council members again reiterated their dismay that any projection devel