Tagged tuna graphic by Nancy Hulbirt, SOEST Illustration.

PFRP Program Overview

The Pelagic Fisheries Research Program (PFRP) was established in 1992 after the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act (1976) was amended to include "highly migratory fish". This amendment greatly increased the responsibilities of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC or Council) which is mandated to manage fisheries in the Western Pacific region. The PFRP was created to provide scientific information on pelagic fisheries to the Council for use in development of fisheries management policies. The term "pelagic", generally refers to fish that live in the near-surface waters of the ocean, often far from shore.

Some of the more important (economically, socially, culturally) fish include:

Tuna graphic by Nancy Hulbirt, SOEST Illustration.

Tuna Species

Billfish Species

Other Species

The geographic area encompassed by PFRP studies include the entire WPRFMC area: American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and other U.S. Pacific territories (altogether approximately 1.5 million square miles).

The PFRP is located at the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), under the University of Hawaii's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). The general management of the PFRP is supervised by a Steering Committee composed of:

  1. Executive Director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WestPac Council)
  2. Chairperson of the WestPac Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee
  3. Dean of SOEST
  4. Director of JIMAR
  5. Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)
  6. Coordinator of Pelagics Research for the NMFS PIFSC

PFRP Conflict of Interest Policy, 23 January 2009
The PFRP's steering committee comprises representatives of the University of Hawaii, the NOAA Pacific Islands Fishery Science Center, and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The program manager is a researcher at the University of Hawaii. Members of the steering committee and the program manager are eligible to apply for PFRP funds as principal or co-principal investigators, and in such instances must recuse themselves from deliberations and decisions on proposals on which they are named.

The first PRFP projects were established in late 1993, and work on these projects began in 1994. In order for the Council to determine "optimum use" of these valuable fishery resources, information is required from a broad spectrum of research disciplines, e.g., biology, genetics, statistics, socio-cultural. To date, the PRFP has funded more than 100 research projects and solicits for new research proposals as federal funding permits, approximately every one to two years. Most project investigators are affiliated with regional research institutes, such as the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC, New Caledonia). Funds have also been awarded to private consulting firms and to U.S. and foreign universities.

[ Top of the page ]

Request for Proposals

Request for proposals (RFPs) are posted on the PFRP web site, on selected email list servers, and circulated to fishery research offices in the academic and commercial fishery programs. In consultation with the PFRP Steering Committee the RFPs will focus on particular research themes such as, oceanographic environment on pelagic fisheries, economic factors influencing fishing industries, ecosystems management approaches and fishery bycatch topics. Submitted research proposals go through an external review process before submission to the PFRP Steering Committee for a final decision. Projects selected for funding are required to submit annual progress reports and make presentations at the PFRP principal investigators meetings; one held in Honolulu and a second gathering at the Lake Arrowhead Tuna Conference in California. More information about the PFRP funding process can be found at the P.I. Corner web page

PFRP Research Priorities

The original PFRP research priorities were established in a 1992 workshop. Most of the topics identified during that workshop were addressed in the first few years of PFRP operations. In the intervening years, management concerns, governance arrangements, and the fisheries themselves have changed drastically. The ecosystem approach to fisheries has become the dominant paradigm for 21st century fisheries management. A second workshop was held at the Imin Conference Center in November 2005 workshop to identify new research priorities for the PFRP for the basis for future requests for proposals. Some of the high ranking topics of concern to those attending include:

See the SOEST-JIMAR technical report of the 2005 research priorities workshop for more details. (PDF, 393 KB)

PFRP Management Progress Reports

Progress Reports in PDF format


Free Adobe Reader icon  Download free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF files.

[ Top of the page ]