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American Samoa Longline Fishery

Current Classification on 2017 LOF

Category II
Estimated Number of Participants 20
Target Species Albacore tuna.  Also, skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna, wahoo, sharks, billfish, and other miscellaneous pelagic species are caught, with most of the sharks and billfish released.
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage Observers were first placed on American Samoa longline vessels in April 2006 to monitor protected species interactions, with observer coverage averaging approximately 6–8% each year.
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Bottlenose dolphin, unknown;
Cuvier’s beaked whale, HI;
False killer whales, American Samoa;
Rough-toothed dolphins, American Samoa;
Short-finned pilot whale (unknown)

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

1 Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

Based on analogy with Category II HI shallow-set and Category I HI deep-set longline fisheries.  The fishing gear and methods used are similar.  Also, there were three interactions with marine mammals in 2008, two false killer whales (stock unknown), one of which was a mortality, and a rough-toothed dolphin (stock unknown).

Distribution

Waters surrounding American Samoa year-round.

Gear Description

This fishery uses longline gear.  Vessels over 50 ft (15.2 m) may set 1,500 - 2,500 hooks and have a greater fishing range and capacity for storing fish (8 - 40 metric tons). The fleet reached a peak of 66 vessels in 2001, and set a peak of almost 7,000 sets in 2002.  Unlike the shallow-set fishery, the deep-set does not have regulations regarding the time of day that the gear may be set.  However, it is more common for fishermen to set their gear in the day and haul in the afternoon, mainly to improve their catch rates.

Management

This fishery is a limited entry fishery for pelagic longline vessels in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around American Samoa.  In 2000, the fishery began to expand rapidly with the influx of large (more than 50 ft (15.2 m) overall length) conventional mono-hull vessels, similar to the type used in the Hawaii-based longline fisheries.  Regulations implemented in 2002 prohibit any large U.S. vessels (50 ft (15.2 m) and longer) from fishing within 50 nmi around the islands of American Samoa.  In 2005, the rapid expansion of longline fishing effort within the U.S. EEZ waters around American Samoa prompted the implementation of a limited entry system. Under the limited access program, NMFS issued a total of 60 initial longline limited entry permits in 2005 to qualified candidates, spread among 4 vessel size classes: 22 permits issued in Class A (less than or equal to 40 ft (12.2 m) length); 5 in Class B (40–50 ft (12.2–15.2 m)); 12 in Class C (50.1– 70 ft (15.2–21.3 m)); and 21 in Class D (more than 70 ft (21.3 m)).  The number of active vessels has shifted to large vessels (Class C and D), with only a couple of small vessels active in the past two years.  Permits may be transferred and renewed.  Under the limited entry program, vessel operators must submit federal catch and effort logbooks, vessels over 40 ft (12.2 m) must carry observers if requested by NMFS, and vessels over 50 ft (15.2 m) must have an operational vessel monitoring system (VMS). In addition, vessel owners and operators must attend a protected species workshop annually, carry and use dip nets, line clippers, and bolt cutters, and follow handling, resuscitation, and release requirements for incidentally hooked or entangled sea turtles.  

 

Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (2006)
Original Number of Participants 138
Basis for Original Classification There were no documented marine mammal injuries or mortalities in this fishery.  However, NMFS initiated an observer program for this fishery in early 2006 to gather data to reevaluate this fishery’s classification.
Past Names N/A
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A

 

Timeline of Changes

2017
  • Estimated number of participants was updated from 22 to 20.
2016
  • Estimated number of participants was updated from 25 to 22.
2015
  • Estimated number of participants was updated from 24 to 25.
2014
  • Added Cuvier’s beaked whale (HI), short-finned pilot whale (unknown), and bottlenose dolphin (unknown).
2013
  • Estimated number of participants was updated from 26 to 24.
2012
  • Estimated number of participants was updated from 60 to 26.
2011
  • Changed the name of the stock of false killer whales on the list of species/stocks killed/injured from “stock unknown” to “American Samoa.”  This stock is newly defined in the 2010 SAR.  Two false killer whales were killed or seriously injured by the fishery in 2008, resulting in an average mortality and serious injury rate of 7.8 whales per year for the period 2006-2008, with approximately 8% observer coverage.  No abundance estimates are available for this stock; therefore, a PBR level cannot be calculated and the serious injuries or mortalities of these animals cannot be compared against the PBR of this stock.
  • Added rough-toothed dolphin (American Samoa stock) to the list of species/stocks killed/injured in the Category II “American Samoa longline” fishery.  This stock is newly defined in the 2010 SAR. One rough-toothed dolphin was seriously injured by the fishery in 2008, resulting in an average mortality and serious injury rate of 3.6 dolphins per year for the period 2006-2008, with approximately 8% observer coverage.  No abundance estimates are available for this stock; therefore, a PBR level cannot be calculated and the serious injury of this animal cannot be compared to the PBR of this stock  
2010
  • Elevated to Category II based on analogy with Category II HI shallow-set and Category I deep-set longline fisheries.  The fishing gear and methods used are similar.  Also, there were three interactions with marine mammals in 2008, two false killer whales (stock unknown), one of which was a mortality, and a rough-toothed dolphin (stock unknown).
  • Added false killer whales (stock unknown) to the list of species/stocks killed/injured in this fishery.  A false killer whale was observed killed in this fishery in 2008.  At the time of publication, an injury determination on the live-released false killer whale and Risso’s dolphin had not yet been incorporated into the SARs.  A mortality does not need to analyzed further to make an injury determination.
2007
  • Estimated number of participants was updated from 138 to 60.


 

Updated February 27, 2017