Catch Monitoring Ensures Annual Catch Target for Main Hawaiian Islands Deep-7 Bottomfish is not Exceeded during the 2011-2012 Fishing Year

The 2011–2012 fishing year for main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) "Deep-7" bottomfish ended on August 31, 2012, and for the first time since annual catch limits were established in 2007, the fishery remained open for the entire fishing year. Preliminary catch monitoring data compiled as of September 11, 2012 indicated that the fishery landed 227,996 pounds of bottomfish during the fishing year, less than the established Annual Catch Target (ACT) of 325,000 pounds. In previous years, the catch had exceeded the ACT prior to August 31, necessitating a closure of the fishery for the remainder of the season.

The Deep 7 complex is comprised of six species of eteline snappers, known locally as onaga (Etelis coruscans), ehu (Etelis carbunculus), opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus), kalekale (Pristipomoides sieboldii), gindai (Pristipomoides zonatus), and lehi (Aphareus rutilans), plus an endemic grouper, known as hapu‘upu‘u (Hyporthodus quernus).

To monitor the Deep-7 bottomfish catch during the fishing year, PIFSC staff members employed by the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) worked with staff of the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR) to process catch reports submitted by fishers after each fishing trip and data on bottomfish sales reported to HDAR by marine fish dealers (Table 1.) The information was gathered on a "fast-track" basis and entered into an online data processing system within two days of being received. Newsletters were mailed to Deep-7 bottomfish fishers during the fishing year to provide them with updates on progress of the fishery.

Table 1.  Nominal fishing effort and reported catch of Deep-7 bottomfish (from fishing reports) and landings (from dealer reports) by Hawaii commercial bottomfishers in the 2011–2012 fishing year (preliminary data.).
Table 1. Nominal fishing effort and reported catch of Deep-7 bottomfish (from fishing reports) and landings (from dealer reports) by Hawaii commercial bottomfishers in the 2011–2012 fishing year (preliminary data.).

During the 2011–2012 fishing year, 468 fishers reported landing Deep-7 bottomfish species. As of September 11, 2012, commercial fishers had reported landing 227,996 pounds of the species. Dealer records indicated sales of 196,490 pounds of bottomfish with an ex-vessel value of $1.2 million. The catch reported by fishers represents 70.2% of the ACT. Many fishers have suggested that bad weather throughout the fishing year was a likely reason the ACT was not reached.