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Guam Bottomfish Handline Fishery

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants > 300
Target Species Bottomfish
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage Not observed
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured None documented

^ 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 the similarity of this fishery to the Hawaii bottomfish fishery, which was observed at 18.3-33.3% coverage from October 2003-December 2005 with no marine mammal interactions, this fishery is expected to have a remote likelihood of marine mammal interactions. Additionally, no mortality or serious injury of marine mammals has been reported or documented in the fishery. 

Distribution: Fishing is conducted year-round during daylight hours, primarily in nearshore territorial waters. Some vessels also make 1-2 day trips to fish on offshore banks in federal waters, including the Guam’s southern banks (Galvez, 11-mile, Santa Rosa, White Tuna, and Baby), and the bank north of Guam (Rota Bank). However, the U.S. military now conducts live fire training and other exercises near Guam’s southern banks and restricts access to this area over 100 days a year, making it less attractive to fishing.

Bottomfish fishing in Guam can be highly seasonal. When sea conditions are calm, generally during the summer months, effort increases substantially on offshore banks (in federal waters), as well as on the east side of the island (in territorial waters), which is a more productive fishing area that is inaccessible to small boats during most of the year due to rough seas (WPRFMC 2012).

In 2013, there were an estimated 2,706 boat-based bottomfishing trips with an estimated 10,881 fishing hours (WPacFIN). 

Gear Description: Fishing from vessels less than 50 ft in length using a vertical mainline with single or multiple baited hooks on short leaders and a terminal weight, used on or near the bottom. The line is retrieved manually, or by any other powered method. Chum bags are sometimes used.

Management: The commercial and non-commercial bottomfish fisheries of the Guam harvest a complex of 17 species that includes both shallow and deep-water snappers and several species of groupers, emperors, and jacks. The federal fisheries management regime under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Mariana Archipelago (Mariana FEP) and implementing regulations under 50 CFR 665.400 through 665.419  includes vessel identification and at-sea observer requirements, and a prohibition on the use of bottom trawls, bottom-set gillnets, and poisons, explosives, or intoxicating substances to harvest bottomfish. The fishery is also subject to an annual catch limit to prevent overfishing. The catch limit is reviewed annually (unless the limit was specified under a multi-year specification) and published in the Federal Register. Federal regulations also require owners of vessels larger than 50 ft to obtain a federal bottomfishing permit and report all catch, and prohibits these vessels from fishing within 50 nautical miles of Guam.

The Territory of Guam regulations require bottomfishing gear be attended at all times and allows bottomfishing to be conducted in a marine preserve from the 60 ft contour seaward.


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants < 50
Basis for Original Classification Listed as Category III because the fishery was expected to have a remote likelihood of incidental serious injury or mortality of marine mammals. No observer, logbook, or stranding data were available.
Past Names None
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants increased from 200 to > 300.
  • Estimated number of participants increased from < 50 to 200.


Updated June 19, 2017