Catch Surveys Close Information Gap in Hawaii’s Commercial Marine Recreational Fishing Sector

Commercial (for-hire) recreational fishing boats contribute significantly to Hawaii’s economy and are thought to account for an important component of the total catch of pelagic species. It is therefore essential to include information about their catch in assessments of the fish stocks. Vessels in this sector are required to hold a valid State of Hawaii Commercial Marine License (CML) and to report their landings and sales for each fishing trip on a monthly basis to the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR). However, there is uncertainty about the completeness of catch reporting. To identify and assess gaps in the catch data, a pilot project was recently launched by the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). Field work for the first phase of the project was completed during November 2009, according to Hongguang Ma, Survey Statistician in the Fisheries Monitoring Division.

Fishing vessels at Honokohau Harbor, Kona, Hawaii, including many charter boats, are covered in the 
                 Marine Recreational Information Program survey.
Fishing vessels at Honokohau Harbor, Kona, Hawaii, including many charter boats, are covered in the Marine Recreational Information Program survey.

Project surveyors visited four major charter boat harbors, one on each of the most populated Hawaiian Islands, and collected data on the participation and effort by fishing vessels, including many charter boats. The harbors were selected based on CML data from 2007, which indicated that charter boat trips from these harbors represent more than 70% of the total charter trips statewide. Data from the surveys will be compared with corresponding HDAR monthly reports of landings data to identify and evaluate any discrepancies. The project will then consider ways to reduce or eliminate data gaps in the reporting by CML holders and develop procedures to validate reported landings. Recommendations for improving CML reporting in the for-hire sector will be made to HDAR.