Special Report

Reeling It In

About The Series

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is at the center of a Civil Beat investigation that reveals conflicts of interest, political favoritism and lax oversight when it comes to using federal dollars to further commercial fishing interests.
Federal Fisheries Council Has A Long History Of Secrecy Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Federal Fisheries Council Has A Long History Of Secrecy

Wespac has for years resisted releasing information, fighting public records requests, lawsuits and even congressional inquiries.

Little-Used Boat Ramps, An Abandoned Marketplace, Rusting Ice Machines Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Little-Used Boat Ramps, An Abandoned Marketplace, Rusting Ice Machines

In American Samoa, some locals say the Wespac fisheries fund projects have been a waste of money. They have more hope for a marina expansion currently in the works.

Conflicts, Lax Oversight Shroud This Secretive Fisheries Fund Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

Conflicts, Lax Oversight Shroud This Secretive Fisheries Fund

A federal fisheries oversight council has stymied inquiries by congressmen, journalists and others over the past few years.

Ongoing Coverage

‘Not Just Wespac’: Federal Oversight Of Fisheries Is Under Scrutiny By Congress Screenshot/2021

‘Not Just Wespac’: Federal Oversight Of Fisheries Is Under Scrutiny By Congress

U.S. Rep. Ed Case used the first hearing on proposed reforms of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to ask where NOAA’s oversight has been in the alleged mismanagement of an obscure fisheries fund.

Congressmen Seek Reforms After ‘Damning’ Audit Of Pacific Fisheries Fund Kuʻu Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2020

Congressmen Seek Reforms After ‘Damning’ Audit Of Pacific Fisheries Fund

A bill being heard Tuesday to update the Magnuson-Stevens Act would take away Wespac’s control of the money and add new layers of oversight.

Federal Audit Finds Questionable Spending And Lax Oversight By Wespac Of Secretive Fisheries Fund Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Federal Audit Finds Questionable Spending And Lax Oversight By Wespac Of Secretive Fisheries Fund

Federal investigators questioned one out of every $6 the regional fishery council spent over the past decade and documented inappropriate procurement practices.

Feds To Audit Wespac’s Handling Of Pacific Tuna Fund Nick Grube/Civil Beat

Feds To Audit Wespac’s Handling Of Pacific Tuna Fund

The move by the inspector general comes after a Civil Beat investigation and request from four congressmen.

‘Red Flags’: Congressmen Ask Feds To Investigate Hawaii Tuna Money Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

‘Red Flags’: Congressmen Ask Feds To Investigate Hawaii Tuna Money

A lack of adequate response from NOAA and Wespac have only raised more questions about how the money is managed.

Hawaii’s Longliners Could Soon Be Allowed To Catch 18 Million Pounds Of Tuna Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii’s Longliners Could Soon Be Allowed To Catch 18 Million Pounds Of Tuna

Federal fishery managers recommended significantly increasing the amount of ahi that the fleet can catch.

Community Voices

Civil Beat Series Was Right: Wespac Is No Friend Of The Ocean Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Civil Beat Series Was Right: Wespac Is No Friend Of The Ocean

Fishery council members have repeatedly shown that they cannot be trusted to govern themselves.

Contrary To Civil Beat Claims, Wespac Is Effective And Transparent Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Contrary To Civil Beat Claims, Wespac Is Effective And Transparent

Articles overlooked “the many successes” the council has had in balancing the complexities of environmental stewardship and commercial use.