Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Documents: Current HMS SAFE Report

Status of  the U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species Through 2013

Published in 2014

Note: Beginning with the 2012 SAFE, the Council’s Highly Migratory Species Management Team (HMSMT) is making this document available online as sections are produced.  Once all sections are complete, printed copies of the document will be available on request.  To check currently available sections see the list of SAFE contents below.  The most recent complete SAFE document, with information through 2012, is available on the Past SAFE Documents page. Commercial and recreational fishery data tables in  Excel workbooks are also available on that page.


The Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species (HMS FMP) was developed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in response to the need to coordinate state, Federal, and international management.  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), on behalf of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, partially approved the HMS FMP on February 4, 2004.  The majority of HMS FMP implementing regulations became effective on April 7, 2004.  Reporting and recordkeeping provisions became effective on February 10, 2005.

The HMS FMP has been amended twice since its implementation.   Amendment 1, approved by NMFS  on June 7, 2007, incorporates recommended international measures to end overfishing of the Pacific stock of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus).  Amendment 2,  approved by NMFS  on June 27, 2011, makes the FMP consistent with revised National Standard 1 Guidelines.

Amendment 2 made the following changes to the HMS FMP:

  • Two management unit species, bigeye thresher shark and pelagic thresher shark, are reclassified as ecosystem component (EC) species.
  • Of the current 34 species identified in the FMP for monitoring purposes, six are retained as EC species.
  • The international exception to setting allowable biological catches (ABCs) and ACLs are applied to the remaining 11 managed species.
  • The FMP describes a process for determining the primary FMP for the purpose of identifying management reference points. Because all the managed species in the HMS FMP are also part of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Pelagics Fishery Ecosystem Plan, coordination between the two councils in setting reference points is needed.
  • The process described in the HMS FMP for establishing and adjusting management measures on a biennial basis also will be used to recommend changes in maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), and status determination criteria (SDC) for stocks managed under the FMP. Council-recommended changes will be reviewed by NMFS.
  • The current description in the FMP of methods for determining MSY, OY, and SDC is modified slightly to more clearly specify that stock-specific considerations could be used when proposing changes to these estimates.

The HMS currently managed under the FMP are:

  • Striped marlin (Kajikia audax*)
  • Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
  • Common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus)
  • Shortfin mako shark (bonito shark) (Isurus oxyrinchus)
  • Blue shark (Prionace glauca)
  • North Pacific albacore (Thunnus alalunga)
  • Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)
  • Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus)
  • Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)
  • Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis)
  • Dorado, a.k.a. mahi mahi or dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus)

*The scientific name for this species was previously Tetrapturus audax.

In addition, Amendment 2 added eight EC species to the FMP.  The EC category is identified in the revised National Standard 1 Guidelines.  The list was compiled from monitored species previously identified in the plan and by moving two management unit species to the EC category.  The EC species are:

  • Bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus)
  • Common mola (Mola mola)
  • Escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum)
  • Lancetfishes (Alepisauridae)
  • Louvar (Luvarus imperialis)
  • Pelagic sting ray (Dasyetis violacea)
  • Pelagic thresher shark (Alopias pelagicus)
  • Wahoo (Acathocybium solandri)

EC species are not considered “in the fishery” but Councils should consider measures to mitigate and minimize bycatch of these species, to the extent practicable, consistent with National Standard 9.  MSY, OY, and other reference points do not need to be specified for EC species.  Identification of EC species will help the Council to track these species over time, periodically evaluate their status, and assess whether any management is needed under the FMP, in which case an EC species could be reclassified as a managed species.


The Management Cycle

The HMS FMP also establishes an annual process for the delivery of the SAFE report to the Council, intended to coincide with the management cycle:  a draft report is provided in June for initial decision-making on the need for new harvest specifications and management measures.  The final report is delivered in September to provide the recommendations and information necessary to develop and implement any harvest specifications and management measures.  NMFS implements the Council’s recommended management measures through the Federal regulatory process, if they are found to be consistent with the MSA and other applicable law.  Any such measures become effective at the start of the next fishing year, April 1 of the following year, or when the rulemaking process is complete, and stay in effect unless action is taken to modify the action.  Council meetings in 2006 initiated the first biennial management cycle under the HMS FMP with consideration of measures to be implemented during the April 1, 2007–March 31, 2009 biennium.  In 2010 the Council considered management changes for the third biennial period, April 1, 2011–March 31, 2013. In 2012 the Council did not consider any regulatory changes for the April 1, 2013–March 31, 2015 biennium.


Highly Migratory Species Management Team

Current members of the HMSMT may be found in the RosterTop

SAFE Contents

As the contents of the SAFE are completed they will be added to this website and the links below will be activated.

  1. Council HMS Activities in 2013
  2. Fishery Management Regulations
  3. Description of Fisheries and Statistical Summaries of Catch, Revenue and Effort
  4. Status of HMS Species
  5. Research and Data Needs (Link to 2013 Council Research and Data Needs document, see section 8.0)
  6. Research Updates (Link to the NMFS SWFSC Director’s Report on Research Regarding Highly Migratory Species (HMS) and their Fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean)
  7. Useful Links to HMS Management and Research