The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has voted to look into modifying the large vessel prohibited area for a period of one year in order to provide relief to the longline fishing fleet in American Samoa.
The Council made the recommendation for staff to work with the National Marine Fisheries Service and local government in exploring options for a possible one year, limited entry program for larger vessels.
The draft plan would look at reducing the northern boundary of the large vessel prohibited area around Tutuila, The Manu'as, and Rose Atoll from 50 nautical miles to 25 nautical miles and around Swains to 12 nautical miles.
The Council made the vote during its four-day meeting in Tumon, Guam after hearing of economic hardships being faced by the longline fishery in American Samoa.
Council Science staff are to work carefully with both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the American Samoa government on the recommended draft plan.
The recommendation is to be revisited at the June Council meeting, where a decision may be made.
Last February, the Tautai o Samoa Longline and Fishing Association requested the Council for a temporary moratorium or waiver from regulations governing the 50 mile area closures around American Samoa.