New guideline leads to higher bottomfish catch quota

Published: Jun. 21, 2011 at 2:45 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 21, 2011 at 2:54 AM HST
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Mark Mitsuyasu
Mark Mitsuyasu

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new formula is causing some confusion about Hawaii's bottomfish catch limit. The quota for 2011-2012 is 325,000 pounds, a nearly 28% increase from last season's total allowable catch of 254,000 pounds.

"We're hoping that the season lasts a little longer with a larger quota. Then you have fresh bottom fish in the local markets a little longer," said Mark Mitsuyasu, fishery program officer for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

The rules are designed to protect seven prized species of bottomfish, including ehu, onaga and opakapaka.

"It's a good example of good management," said Brooks Takenaka of the United Fishing Agency. "You get to a point where you have a larger resource base so you have a sustainable resource, and you're allowed a little bit more fishing, and so you have sustainable fishing."

In order to fulfill a requirement from Congress, fishery managers are using a new method to calculate the annual catch limit. The figure is then adjusted for different factors, like projecting when the quota will be reached.

"It's an ongoing tabulation of how much you catch, so there's a delay in the reporting system of a month," explained Mitsuyasu. "So when you get towards the end, you're actually projecting when it's going to reach it."

There is some confusion with the new calculation because in March the council announced a higher limit of 383,000 pounds based on the old system.

"Some people will be unhappy, but in the ultimate situation it's really a matter of how do we get to a point where indeed we may be able to fish throughout the year," said Takenaka.

Officials said they're pleased that the regulations in place to protect the Deep 7 bottomfish appear to be working.

"It's not overfished, that's for sure, and there's no overfishing going on," said Mitsuyasu.

The bottomfish season opens on September 1.

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