Waialua Boat Club Catch and Effort Data Collected to Improve Hawaii Fish Stock Assessments

PIFSC researchers kicked off a cooperative research project with the Waialua Boat Club at the Club's 4th of July picnic.
PIFSC researchers kicked off a cooperative research project with the Waialua Boat Club at the Club's 4th of July picnic.

A key objective of NOAA Fisheries staff at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center is to ensure that fish stock assessment scientists and fishery managers have accurate information about fishing activities and catch by all marine resource users. Such data have been routinely collected on most Hawaii commercial fishing through surveys or self-reporting. However, information on non-commercial fishing, including recreational fishing, is absent or incomplete. To help close this gap, PIFSC social scientists Cindy Grace-McCaskey and Leila Sievanen, aided by summer intern Taylor Witkin, are working with the Waialua Boat Club (WBC) on a project to better document catch and effort in non-commercial boat-based fisheries on Oahu. The goal of the project is to provide more accurate and comprehensive catch and effort data to inform stock assessments and the setting of annual catch limits (ACLs) for federally managed species in Hawaii. Additionally, the data collected will provide important information about the social, economic, and cultural importance of non-commercial fishing, what "type" of fishermen participants perceive themselves to be, how motivations for each fishing trip may change during the course of the trip, and how fishermen distribute their catch (what percent is shared with family and friends, sold, kept for personal use, etc.).

The WBC is an ideal partner for this research because it is made up of both commercial and non-commercial fishermen, and several club members have long been interested in helping to establish a process to collect catch and effort data for the boat-based fishing community. WBC is one of the oldest fishing clubs on the island, and its members fish in many areas and target a diversity of species. The club has strong leadership that will encourage members to participate. Working with the WBC as a pilot study group will enable researchers to evaluate and improve their data collection methods before similar surveys are implemented with other fishing clubs in Hawaii.

Grace-McCaskey and Sievanen began working with WBC members Roy Morioka, Ed Watamura, and Dave Itano in February 2013 to develop the project in a manner that will collect data and achieve goals important to researchers and fishermen alike. Together, they developed a short questionnaire for all participating fishermen to complete before and after each fishing trip; the questions focus primarily on trip motivation and catch distribution. Additionally, participants who hold a State of Hawaii commercial marine license (CML) have agreed to provide PIFSC with copies of the commercial catch reports they submit monthly to the state. Non-CML holders will provide information on their monthly catch using a similar form. Data collection began in July 2013. Grace-McCaskey and Sievanen will maintain a database of interview results and catch data and as new survey results and catch reports are turned in.