Fishing Ecosystem Analysis Tool (FEAT)

PIFSC social scientist Stewart Allen and Matt Austin, a geospatial analyst with the National Ocean Service in Silver Spring, developed the Fishing Ecosystem Analysis Tool (FEAT) while Austin was in Honolulu on a three-month rotational assignment ending April, 2009. The purpose of FEAT is to take a relatively inaccessible yet critical database—the best available information on small-boat commercial fishing in Hawaii - and make it easily accessible while integrating catch information with socioeconomic information from the U.S. Census.

FEAT is a system for analyzing and spatially displaying commercial and recreational fishing catch data in combination with the place-based approach to defining and measuring fishing communities envisioned by National Standard 8 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Fishing communities in Hawaii are currently defined at the island level, which is overly broad for conducting social impact analysis. A suitable scale for many analyses is Zip Code Tabulation Area, which the U.S. Bureau of the Census developed by aggregating census blocks. FEAT refers to these areas as Socioeconomic Zones because they are characterized using Census socioeconomic variables such household income, poverty level, education, ethnicity, and income assistance.

FEAT links these Socioeconomic Zones to commercial marine license catch data and recreational catch data using anglers' zip codes. This allows for spatial analysis and reporting of catch variables such as species, pounds landed, port of landing, gear used, and fishing area location (using State of Hawaii reporting grids). FEAT then associates any of these variables with the anglers' socioeconomic zones and characteristics. Data from 10 years of commercial marine license catch reports and 7 years of recreational catch data currently are entered into the database.

FEAT uses the program FME to analyze the data. It has a simple front end that allows the user to make queries in drop-down boxes. Variables in the drop-down boxes which can be specific by the user currently include time period, island, species (including all 200+ species in the commercial marine license database), gear type (all 40+ gear types), and fishing zone (8 categories of aggregated fishing grids).

The output can be displayed in a number of formats, including Google Earth and as a GeoPDF-a pdf file that can be easily displayed using Acrobat Reader; the user can turn on and off layers and display data for any unit of analysis. For example, clicking on a Socioeconomic Zone displays information about that zone such as the percent of residents receiving income assistance, as well as the catch information and statistics specific to the query. Clicking on a fishing grid location will yield statistics about the catch in that grid and its proportion of the total.

FEAT has been displayed at a number of venues, including several Fishermen's Forums, neighbor island meetings, Science Center external review meetings, Puwalu, public lecture series, and professional conferences. Under a contract with a firm experienced with FME, new features are being added and the system will be adapted to be web-based and to automatically update the underlying databases. This will follow further identification and documentation of potential user and stakeholder requirements. Availability will be announced on this web site.

More information about FEAT is contained in the presentation below, which was given at the 2012 Hawaiian Islands Symposium in Honolulu.


Allen S
2012. Fishing Ecosystem Analysis Tool (FEAT). Hawaiian Islands Research Symposium. Honolulu, HI. May 2-3.