Trip-Level Costs of Small-Boat Fishing in American Samoa

In August 2009, PIFSC's Economics Program, in collaboration with PIFSC's Western Pacific Fisheries Information Network (WPacFIN), initiated a trip-cost economic data collection effort in the American Samoa small boat-based fishery. The data collection program gathers fishing expenditures for boat-based trips targeting reef fish, bottomfish, and pelagics on a continuous basis. The economic data collection program is an "add-on" to an existing boat-based creel survey administered by the American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) to collect fisheries dependent data.

The economic add-on survey form collects fishing trip-level data on: gallons of fuel used, price per gallon of fuel, cost of ice used, cost of bait and chum used, cost of fishing gear lost, and the engine type of the boat. In contrast, the existing boat-based creel survey mainly collects data on fishing effort, catch information, and species composition of the catch for the trip about which the fisherman is interviewed as s/he returns to the boat ramp/port areas. DMWR administers the entire creel survey program (both existing survey and add-on) using a systematic random sampling protocol at major boat ramp/port areas throughout American Samoa. The local staff conducts in-person boat-based surveys several times a month, based on random sampling by type of day (weekday/weekend/holiday) throughout the year on an ongoing basis.

Summary Data Products

The data collected through this program provide important economic indicators of fishery performance. PIFSC has completed an internal report summarizing these data:

Pan M, Chan H, Kalberg K
2012. Tracking the Changes of Economic Performance Indicators for the Main U.S. Commercial Fisheries in the Pacific Islands Region. Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Internal Report IR-12-039, 18 p.

Below are selected analyses of these data; more information is available in above-referenced report.

Response Rate of Economic Survey - American Samoa

The participation of fishermen in the economic survey is voluntary. During the sample period August 2009 to August 2012, 407 creel surveys were collected and 343 (84%) of these had complete economic information. Excluding 58 trips without fuel use in 2012 (inshore fishing) and based on the 285 trips (14 in 2009, 77 in 2010, 155 in 2011, and 39 in 2012) with completed data.

Sample Period: August 2009 to August 2012
  Frequency Percent
Total Creel Survey Forms Administered 407 100%
Forms with Economic Data    
Completed 343 84%
With fuel use 285 70%
Without fuel use 58 14%
Incomplete 12 3%
Not filled out 52 13%
Data source: economic add-on to the American Samoa DMWR boat-based creel survey

Fishing Trip Cost - American Samoa

The figure below shows the average trip cost for all the fuel and non-fuel costs in American Samoa from 2009 to 2012. Other, non-fuel costs included bait and chum used and gear lost. The annual average trip cost was $76 in 2009 (August to December), $77 in 2010, increased to $91 in 2011, and dropped to $71 in 2012 (January to August). The increase in trip costs from 2009 to 2011 primarily resulted from an increase in fuel costs. The proportion of fuel cost to total costs in 2009 was particularly low while the portion of other costs was high compared to the other three years (2010-2012). In 2009, an average fishing trip featured the lowest fuel usage (average 11 gallons per trip) and lowest fuel price ($3.11/gallon) of the years sampled. The low fuel usage may be due to small sample size (14 trips in 2009) and also a sample that included the highest fraction of bottomfish trips among total trips. On the other hand, the drop in trip costs in 2012 was mainly due to lower fuel usage on average. In particular, fuel usage per trip for both bottomfish and spearfish trips declined in 2012 compared to 2011 and 2010, while fuel price in 2012 was slightly higher than 2011 ($4.21 vs. $4.14).

Fishing Trip Cost by Gear Type - American Samoa

Data were also aggregated by gear type. The table below shows the number of observations by gear type from August 2009 to August 2012. Most of the trips in the sample were spearfish trips (43%), followed by bottomfish (29%), troll (17%), and mixed troll and bottomfish (9%). Others include longline (n=5), and atule-mixed (n=1). Trip cost for American Samoa small boats varied by gear type. The figure below illustrates the trip cost by gear type in 2011.

  Frequency Percent
Spear 123 43%
Bottomfish 82 29%
Troll 47 17%
Mixed Troll and Bottomfish 27 9%
Longline 5 2%
Atule-mixed 1 .04%
Total 285 100%

Monthly Fuel Price - American Samoa

As shown in the above graphs, fuel cost constitutes a large portion of fishing trip cost. The figure below shows an upward trend in fuel price from 2009 to 2012. Fuel price per gallon has been increasing over time from $3 in August 2009 to over $4.50 in April 2012.

Average Monthly Fuel Price - American Samoa. Note: no data in October 2009 due to earthquake on September 29, 2009.
Note: no data in October 2009 due to earthquake on September 29, 2009.