Trip-Level Costs of Small-Boat Fishing in Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

In April 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 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) 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 CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources' Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) 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 & 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. DFW 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 CNMI. 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 - CNMI

The participation of fishermen in the economic add-on (and the existing survey) is voluntary. During the sample period April 2009 to May 2012, 582 creel surveys were completed. Among those, 96 observations were charter trips and 486 observations were non-charter trips. Charter trips are excluded from this analysis because they are associated with recreational fishing. Among the 486 non-charter trip observations, 335 (69%) had complete economic data. We received a total of 72 completed forms in 2009, 87 forms in 2010, 103 forms in 2011, and 73 forms in 2012.

Sample Period: August 2009 to May 2012
  Frequency Percent
Total Creel Survey Forms Received 582  
Charter Trip 96  
Non-charter Trip 486 100%
Completed 335 69%
Incomplete 25 5%
Not Filled Out 126 26%
Data source: economic add-on to the CNMI DFW boat-based creel survey

Fishing Trip Cost - CNMI

The figure below shows the average trip cost for all the fuel and non-fuel costs in CNMI from 2009 to 2012. Fuel cost constitutes a large portion of fishing trip cost, ranging from 86% of total cost in 2009 to 90% of total cost in 2011. Other costs include cost of ice used, bait and chum used, and fishing gear lost. The average trip cost was $53 in 2009 (April to December), $61 in 2010, $63 in 2011, and increased to $79 in 2012. The increasing trend in fishing costs from 2009 to 2012 was due to higher fuel prices.

Fishing Trip Cost by Gear Type - CNMI

Data were also aggregated by gear type. The table below shows the number of trips sampled by gear type from April 2009 to May 2012. Most of the trips in the sample were troll (69%), followed by bottomfish (19%), spear/snorkel (6%), and mixed troll and bottomfish (3%). Others include atulai (n=6) and cast net (n=4). Trip cost varied by gear types. The figure below gives an example of trip cost by gear type in 2011.

  Frequency Percent
Troll 231 69%
Bottomfish 63 19%
Spear/Snorkel 20 6%
Mixed Troll and Bottomfish 11 3%
Atulai 6 2%
Cast Net 4 1%
Total 335 100%

Monthly Fuel Price - CNMI

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 below $3 in April 2009 to over $5 in March 2012.