Moratorium on bottom fishing looms

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Felix Reyes, the Guam coordinator for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, spoke about a recent report from the National Marine Fisheries Service which found that the bottom fishing stocks within the reef lines around Guam have been overfished.

Complaints were heard at the Mayors Council of Guam this morning about the fishing habits practiced by some members of Guam’s FSM immigrant community.

The issue arose during a presentation made by Felixberto Reyes, the Guam coordinator for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

Reyes spoke about a recent report from the National Marine Fisheries Service which found that the bottom fishing stocks within the reef lines around Guam have been overfished.

He warned that a moratorium may have to be declared.

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“On the federal side, there is a possibility of putting a moratorium on bottom fishing for us because of the lack of data. And there may be a complete cessation of bottom fishing altogether. And that will take another six to seven years to recover because we need to recruit the target species so we can continue fishing again,” Reyes said.

The warning prompted Santa Rita Mayor Dale Alvarez and Yigo Mayor Rudy Matanane to criticize the fishing habits practiced by some FSM migrants on island and the lack of enforcement by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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“Why is that the Coast Guard boards our boats and give us citations when our licenses expire. But them, they don’t get checked. And every boat in there, I bet, is in violation. So, you know, how can we enforce? I’m not saying for them to stop or limit or what. But treat them the way they treat us. And ask them to learn how to respect other fishermen out there and the law,” Alvarez said.

Matanane added: “It’s robbing the people of that fish within the reef. If they make money, you know, I think they have the resources to fish within the boundaries and I’m wondering why they’re not doing anything about it.”

The mayors said they would approach the FSM’s Consul General on Guam to discuss the problem.

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