Tracking Changes in Economic Performance Indicators for Small Boat Fisheries in American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam

PIFSC Economics Program staff members Minling Pan, Hing Ling Chan, and Kolter Kalberg have established a data collection program to learn about fishing trip costs in the small-boat fisheries of American Samoa, Guam, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The Economics Program partnered with the Western Pacific Fisheries Information Network (WPacFIN) to develop an economic survey as an "add-on" to the creel surveys administered by local fisheries agencies. The economic data collected are similar to those gathered in the economic add-on part of the pelagic longline observer form that has been used in the Hawaii longline fishery, e.g., information about costs of fuel, ice, bait, and other trip-specific expenses. Preliminary summaries of the data on fishing trip costs have been compiled.

Figure 1. Average costs per fishing trip for surveyed small boats in American Samoa during 2009-2011.  Fuel costs have made up an increasing proportion of total trip costs.
Figure 1. Average costs per fishing trip for surveyed small boats in American Samoa during 2009-2011. Fuel costs have made up an increasing proportion of total trip costs.

In American Samoa, the data collection program began in August 2009. During the sampling period from August 2009 to December 2011, observations were obtained from 288 fishing trips; 252 (87%) of these yielded complete economic data. For the 252 trips with complete data (15 in 2009, 79 in 2010, and 158 in 2011), the annual average trip cost was $76 in 2009 (August to December), $77 in 2010, and $90 in 2011 (Figure 1). The increase in trip costs in 2011 resulted mainly from an increase in fuel costs. Non-fuel costs included expenditures for bait and chum used and gear lost.

In CNMI, the economic data collection program was implemented in April 2009. During the sampling period between April 2009 and December 2010, program staff completed 251 creel surveys yielding economic information; 145 of these (58%) featured complete economic data. Using the 145 trips with complete data (57 completed forms in 2009 and 88 forms in 2010) the researchers estimated the average CNMI trip costs, including fuel and non-fuel costs, for 2009 and 2010; the results are shown in Figure 2. As in the American Samoa small-boat fishery, the cost of fuel constituted a large portion of fishing trip cost for CNMI boats. Other costs included expenditures for ice, bait and chum, and fishing gear lost. The average CNMI trip cost was $57 in 2009 (April to December) and increased to $60 in 2010.

Figure 2.  Average costs per trip for surveyed small boats in CNMI during 2009-2010. Data were also collected in 2011, but analysis of them has not yet been completed.
Figure 2. Average costs per trip for surveyed small boats in CNMI during 2009-2010. Data were also collected in 2011, but analysis of them has not yet been completed.

In September 2011, the fishing trip-cost data collection program was broadened to include Guam. The data from Guam are currently being compiled and analyzed; a summary of results will be available soon.