HONOLULU: JUNE 20, 2008 -- Decisions made during the Tuesday, June 17 and Wednesday, June 18 meetings of the June 16-19,2008, meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Wespac) are null and void because, for the second consecutive regularly scheduled meeting, the public were not given proper notice as required by federal law (see attached Federal Register; no notice for Tuesday, two Wednesday agendas, and March instead of June). The affected actions include: the MHI Bottom fish season opening and a hearing for the National Environmental Protection Act changes. The decision-making portions of the meetings will need to be held again at an estimated cost of $50-$60,000. Official participants are flown infrom as far away as the Commonwealth of the Norther Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam and in addition to their annual salaries and benefits, officials attending the Wespac meetings are paid approximately $650-day per diem in addition to their airfare, lodging and ground transportation costs.Tsk, tsk.
The failure to provide proper public notice also occurred during Wespac's March 17-18, 2008, meeting in the CNMI and the decisions made there had to be reheard and voted upon during a subsequent makeup meeting in Honolulu on April 15, 2008. In an april 15, 2008, media release, Wespac blamed "a bureaucratic error" by theNational Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Scott Foster, the Communications Director for the Western & Central Pacific Network said, "We have no doubt that Wespac's ED, Kitty Simonds will again lay this mistake off on others -- but the fact remains, as ED, Simonds job is to provide steady management which she has not done. Simonds must have known about this before the four-day series of meetings even began. Why wasn't anything said or the important bottomfish closure vote moved to later when it would have been legal?"
Foster also noted, "It gives us no pleasure to again call this error to Wespac's attention because this will require all interested parties to once-again attend or monitor yet-another meeting on yet-another day during yet-another month while our fish stocks move ever-closer to total collapse. Continued mismanagement by the WesternPacific Fisheries Management Council is driving the Main Hawaiian Islands bottom-fish stocks closer to collapse with the self-inflicted nullification of the few good rules they actually pass." "Fishermen should be upset if Wespac doesn't hold another meeting to re-do that vote simply because the Bottom Fish Season may reach the catch limit and close before Christmas" Foster said. "Wespac will have to do what they did after they botched the public notice of the last Wespac meeting and schedule a re-do that will end up adding to the already ridiculous costs paid by taxpayers." It is anticipated that at the make up meeting, likely to be called the 143rd if Wespac follows form, the Council will find itself in the unenviable position of having to approve minutes for the 140th, 141st and 142nd meetings due to Wespac's dereliction. "Kitty Simonds derelict management of the Council would have resulted in her dismissal if she was employed in the private sector." Foster continued, "this will probably not quiet the calls, by many groups, for her removal."
WESPAC continues to be the main source of opposition for the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument idea. Their most recent activity is to coordinate an anti-monument petition with the Office of Carolinian Affairs. This is nothing new for them. They have been accused of manipulating indigenous people in Hawai'i, too.
I asked to sign the petition when I went into the Office of Carolinian Affairs this past Monday. I was told by the secretary that the WESPAC coordinator, who is a federal employee, had already picked them up (I have one other witness).
I assume that the petition is a result of the closed door meetings the WESPAC coordinator has been calling with Carolinian Affairs. I wouldn't know for sure though, because when I asked the director if I could attend one of the meetings, she told me that they were being called by the WESPAC coordinator and that he wouldn't want me there (I have two other witnesses).