Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey: A Review and Evaluation

The Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey (HMRFS), one component of the national Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey program, was designed to develop statewide, annual estimates of recreational fish catch by species. This has been accomplished primarily through two surveys: 1) a telephone survey of Hawaii residents to collect information on shore and private boat fishing effort levels; and 2) a field survey that collects catch information from shore and private boat anglers. However, we found that few in Hawaii knew much about these efforts and, in particular, about how catch estimates were made from the two surveys. We published a report in 2008 describing each survey effort and how they are assembled to produce the statewide, annual estimates.

The report described the results of a collaborative effort from 2004 to 2005 between Nicole Bartlett, then a statistician for the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) program staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Stewart Allen, social scientist at Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in Honolulu. The bulk of the project took place while Bartlett was at PIFSC on a rotational assignment from October 2004 to March 2005. The purpose of this project was to review, evaluate, and communicate the results from an initial year of conducting the MRFSS in Hawaii. The experiences of other states, as well as discussions among Hawaii policy makers and stakeholders, made it clear that accurate, timely data on recreational fishing in Hawaii will be critical.

One of the main products of the rotational assignment (in addition to the report) was a workshop held February 9, 2005, at the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council office. The need for the workshop originated during the October 12, 2004 meeting of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council's Social Science Research Committee. Attendees discussed the increasing importance of scientific information on recreational fishing and its application to state and federal management. However, many present did not have a good understanding of the information collected by the Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey (HMRFS) and how NOAA Fisheries develops catch estimates using data from the household telephone survey and shoreline and dockside field surveys. Committee members had other questions related to the HMRFS, its analyses, and data products.

The purpose of the workshop was to reach a common understanding of HMRFS data and procedures, learn how catch estimates are developed, and explore existing and potential applications of the data. The workshop was attended by about 20 people, including the Council Chairman, PIFSC's Science Director and Fisheries Monitoring and Socioeconomics Division Chief, Pacific Islands Regional Office Administrator, and State Division of Aquatic Resources Acting Chief.

Following the workshop, Bartlett and Allen presented a workshop summary to the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee on February 23, 2005. Allen then presented a policy-level summary to the Council at its 126th meeting on March 16 and a summary and pelagics overview to the Pelagics Plan Team on May 4. At the workshop and each of these presentations, attendees raised several questions, identified issues, and made a number of recommendations about HMRFS procedures, analyses, and uses of the data.

The documentation of methods used in Hawaii provides useful historical background as NOAA Fisheries adapts the MRFSS program in response to criticism, as reflected by the 2006 publication of the National Research Council's Review of Recreational Fisheries Survey Methods (available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11616.html). Descriptions of the new methods NOAA Fisheries will use to measure recreational catch and effort, called the Marine Recreational Information Program, can be found at http://www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/.

Allen SD, Bartlett N
2008. Hawaii Marine Recreational Fisheries Survey: How analysis of raw data can benefit regional fisheries management and how catch estimates are developed. NOAA Administrative Report H-08-04, May 2008.