Survey Describes Economics of Hawaii's Small-boat Fisheries

A recent study by PIFSC economists revealed the costs incurred during fishing trips by Hawaii's small boat fishery and shed light on the social and economic importance of small boat fishing. Staff of the Center's economics program interviewed 345 owners and operators of small fishing vessels at boat ramps across the State from April 2007 to April 2008. Fishers reported that fuel is their primary cost during a fishing trip. For trolling trips in 2007, fuel accounted for 70% of total trip costs, on average. Increases in the price of fuel may affect the future economic viability of small boat fishing in Hawaii.

Boat fuel is the major cost of small-boat troll fishing in Hawaii for both commercial and recreational fishers.

It is important to identify the economic factors challenging the small boat fishery because this fleet provides both economic and social benefits. In 2007, small boat fishers in Hawaii sold 4.2 million pounds of fish valued at nearly $9.5 million, most purchased and consumed locally. In addition, a large share of the catch is not sold in markets but kept by fishers to benefit their families and local communities. More than 97% of people interviewed in the study said they give fish away, and 63% consider the fish they catch to be an important source of food for their family. Should catch in the local small boat fishery decline, Hawaii consumers and families of fishers may have to rely more on imported fish. As PIFSC economists continue to study the survey results, additional findings will be reported.

For more information contact: Justin Hospital