Fisheries Monitoring and Socioeconomics Division

Onaga (Etelis coruscans) at a fish auction

The Fisheries Monitoring and Socioeconomics Division specializes in the collection, management, and analysis of data from U.S. fisheries in the Pacific Islands Region. The FMSD monitors and reports on U.S. fisheries in the PIR; provides technical support to the PIFSC partner agencies in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in developing and administering local fishery monitoring programs; and conducts social and economic research on marine resource use in the PIR. Fishery-dependent data collected, processed, and analyzed by FMSD, and products derived from them, comprise most of the information requests received by FMSD from fishery scientists and managers and are the foundation of many fisheries management decisions. FMSD provides fishery statistics to fulfill U.S. obligations for data exchange and reporting under several international agreements. FMSD socioeconomic data collection and research provide valuable insights into the effects of those decisions on fishery participants.

Fisheries Monitoring and Socioeconomics Division
FY 2007

Federal 11
Other 4
Total 27
Salaries and benefits 1,202,266 40.9
Grants 1,181,576 40.2
Contracts 384,019 13.1
Equipment 24,122 0.8
Supplies 19,588 0.7
Travel & transportation 121,407 4.1
Rent, vessel charters, and communication 178 0.01
Printing 6,780 0.2
Total $2,939,936

The FMSD is organized into four programs:

  • The Western Pacific Fisheries Information Network is a cooperative program involving the WPacFIN central office at PIFSC and fisheries agencies of American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii. WPacFIN compiles fisheries information collected by these agencies and provides technical expertise and tools to help them collect fishery-dependent data needed for local, federal, and international fishery management decisions.
  • The Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Program collects, processes, compiles, interprets, and disseminates federally mandated logbook data. FMAP also provides information on federally regulated fisheries to fishers and industry constituents and makes nonconfidential data available to fishers to improve PIFSC communication and working relationships with them.
  • The Economics Program (EP) contributes to Pacific Islands Region fisheries management by collecting cost-earnings data, assessing the economic health and capacity of fishing fleets, studying fish markets, examining economic effects of fisheries regulations, and evaluating nonmarket values of living marine resources.
  • The Human Dimensions Research Program studies the "people" side of fishing and other uses of marine ecosystems in the Pacific Islands Region. HDRP research complements biophysical and economic studies by exploring social and cultural benefits and values associated with marine resources. FMSD has a staff of 27, including 11 federal employees, 12 JIMAR employees, and others. Personnel and grants made up the largest fractions of expenditures.

Key 2007 Accomplishments

Bottomfishing boat
Bottomfishing boat tied to the dock in Kewalo Basin

Many products provided by FMSD are recurrent. Examples are quarterly and annual summaries of logbook statistics for longline fisheries in Hawaii and American Samoa, sections of annual reports for Fishery Management Plans, and annual inputs to Fisheries of the United States. Some of the Division's new initiatives and accomplishments in 2007 included the following:

  • Provided local fishery offices in American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii with technical support and software to improve data collecting and reporting.
  • Monitored the U.S. longline catch of Pacific bigeye tuna in waters east of 150° W longitude, enabling U.S. compliance with the annual catch quota established by the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.
  • Provided data and analysis in support of U.S. fishery reports and data submissions to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
  • Expanded outreach programs to educate the public, including a program to encourage use of barbless circle hooks by recreational fishers, enabling them to reduce mortality or injury of incidentally hooked protected species and fish caught and released.
  • In collaboration with the Hawaiian Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR), the Pacific Islands Regional Office, and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPFMC), provided support for monitoring of bottomfish fishing effort and catch in the main Hawaiian Islands, including development and implementation of public outreach and education, field guides and training for species identification, and fast-track procedures for catch monitoring.
  • Established a program to monitor Hawaii's retail fish markets.
  • Launched a Hawaii small boat cost-earnings study to estimate the economic contribution of commercial small boat fishing to the State of Hawaii.
  • Developed case studies of successful implementations of bycatch reduction techniques by Hawaii-based longline fishers, with funds from the Fisheries Disaster Relief Program.
  • Collaborated with other economists, including NOAA Fisheries headquarters staff, to survey economic values associated with recreational fishing for blue marlin in Hawaii.
  • Conducted a Socioeconomic Assessment and Monitoring Training Program in American Samoa, with participants from local agencies.
  • Initiated a project to document traditional knowledge of marine use and resource management in American Samoa, with mini-grant funding from the NOAA Preserve America Initiative.
  • Conducte0d research on social and cultural aspects of spearfishing in Hawaii, with support from NOAA's Rotational Assignment Program.

Challenges, Problems, and Limitations

Hook storage bins and line shooter on stern of longline boat

The FMSD must meet increasing demands for improved fisheries data collection, management, and reporting to enable agency compliance with federal statutes and regulations. We must support the WPFMC in amending Fishery Management Plans and developing Fishery Ecosystem Plans. New mandates under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) with respect to permits, reporting, and management of total allowable catch will provide challenges in the Pacific Islands where regulations governing such management measures are mostly absent. Additional challenges in data collection are anticipated as the agency implements annual catch limits and works to improve recreational fisheries data programs. Accordingly, the FMSD must invest in expanding and training PIFSC personnel, build greater technical capacity of WPacFIN partners, increase the efficiency of data operations, and improve the timeliness of reporting. Staff will also need to complete and maintain comprehensive metadata and documentation for fishery data collections and reports.

Future Focus and Direction

WPacFIN will continue to improve long-term data collection programs and address new developments. We will work closely with partner offices throughout the Pacific Islands Region to identify ways to improve data collection and coverage and help local fishery offices implement new monitoring programs. WPacFIN will continue to develop database applications to support several projects, including integration of HDAR fish catch data with fish dealer sales data, improvement of recreational fisheries monitoring, and collection of data on local fishing fleets and fish imports in CNMI and American Samoa. WPacFIN also plans to improve its Web site content, data request service protocols, and documentation for data collection programs and database applications.

FMAP will provide technical assistance for ongoing efforts to develop simpler and more efficient alternatives for reporting of catch and effort by fishers. In particular, FMAP will assist with development of electronic longline logbooks which will enable secure, efficient, and timely compliance with federal reporting requirements and quicker and more accurate fishery monitoring. FMAP will also develop software applications that integrate data from different data sets, perform fishery analysis and monitoring functions, and generate the summary statistics needed to meet the agency's domestic and international reporting requirements. FMAP will also continue to improve its section of the PIFSC Web site so the public will have ready access to current nonconfidential fishery statistics, fishery reports, and other information.

EP will continue to seek support to expand research in American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI. EP intends to expand its research on the economics of coral reef resources, protected species, and ecotourism.

HDAR plans to complete profiles of fishing communities in Hawaii and American Samoa as required by the MSA, complete a framework for long-term monitoring of the human dimensions of coral reef ecosystems in the main Hawaiian Islands, and further develop its geographic information system capability to support analysis of fishing impacts at the sub-island scale in the main Hawaiian Islands.

Outreach Project Encourages Use of Barbless Circle Hooks to Aid Conservation of Shoreline Fish and Protected Species

Local fisher
Local fisher proudly displays his "once in a lifetime" 117 lb white ulua caught on a barbless circle hook.

Shoreline fishing has long been a popular pastime in Hawaii. But as our local human population continues to grow, the pressure on shoreline fish stocks also increases, and care is needed to ensure a healthy shoreline fishery. Fortunately, shoreline and small-boat recreational fishers in Hawaii include many ardent marine conservationists who practice catch-and-release fishing to minimize their impacts on the fish stocks. What's more, thanks to an outreach program by PIFSC, the fishers have learned that by using barbless circle hooks instead of ordinary barbed fishing hooks, they can greatly reduce the severity of injuries to the fish they release and increase their chances for survival. The barbless hooks also reduce injury to any protected species fishers happen to hook incidentally and cut loose from the line. Kurt Kawamoto of FMSD and other PIFSC staff conduct an outreach and education program with local shoreline fishing clubs and tournaments to promote awareness of marine conservation issues and the benefits of using barbless circle hooks. They distribute barbless hooks—over 35,000 hooks so far—and information leaflets to enthusiastic fishers and collect catch data from tournaments to demonstrate how the barbless hooks help resource conservation while having little effect on fishing success and retention of fish kept for the table. For fish in the latter category, tournaments offer special prizes for those caught using barbless hooks. It's a win-win situation.