Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Information Improved

Staff of the PIFSC Fisheries Monitoring Branch recently reported the completion of two projects under the NOAA Fisheries Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) to improve estimates of recreational fishery catch in Hawaii. One project was designed to evaluate monitoring of the Hawaii charter boat fishery. It sought to validate catch statistics reported in the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR) Commercial Marine License reporting system for charter boat fisheries. The other project was part of an ongoing effort to improve the Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey (HMRFS) intercept survey methods. It evaluated HMRFS protocols and data to determine whether or not new estimation methods can be directly applied to HMRFS. Results of both projects were presented on December 7, 2011 at a Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) workshop on Hawaii Non-commercial Fisheries Data Collection.

In response to the National Research Council's review of the national Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS), MRIP developed new data expansion methods that take into account the stratified sampling design used for catch rate estimation. Updated MRFSS catch estimates for 2004-2010, based on the new methods, were expected to be rolled out in late January 2012. However, these estimates will cover Atlantic and Gulf states only, because HMRFS data were not included in the system when MRIP methodology was originally developed. In its review of previously collected HMRFS data, the Hawaii MRIP project determined that these data were insufficient for a reevaluation of historical surveys using the new MRIP data expansion protocol, because information on how the samples were drawn had not been included within the database when it was created. Furthermore, the "sample draw" procedure used to randomly select areas to be surveyed in the HMRFS, based on the proportion of fishing pressure in each area, was found to be outdated compared to the draw program used in the Atlantic and Gulf States.

Since 2011, HMRFS has been using an updated software program for drawing survey samples that has been modified to produce all the output data files needed by the new MRIP data expansion/estimation program. As part of the 2011 Hawaii MRIP project on intercept survey methods, several recommendations were made to improve historical HMRFS catch estimates. One suggestion was to modify the new data expansion program to accommodate the site-sample draw scheme used by HMRFS prior to 2011. The PIFSC Fisheries Monitoring Branch will continue to work with staff at the WPRFMC, HDAR and the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) to develop new MRIP proposals to improve estimates of Hawaii non-commercial fish landings. Some of the issues identified in previous MRIP projects will be addressed in upcoming proposals.