Economic Performance of Commercial Fisheries Assessed in the Pacific Islands Region

PIFSC Economists Hing Ling Chan and Minling Pan have assessed the economic performance of three Pacific Islands Region commercial fisheries using a set of "national standard" indicators. The analysis was carried out for the Hawaii-based longline fishery for tunas and swordfish, the American Samoa longline fishery, and the bottomfish fishery in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). The economic indicators computed included aggregate fish landings, number of permits, number of active vessels, number of fishing trips, length of fishing season, number of days at sea, aggregate landings revenue, and utilization of the Annual Catch Limit (ACL). In addition to these indicators, Chan and Pan computed the Gini coefficient, which measures the equality of revenue distribution among active vessels or permit holders in the fishery. A Gini coefficient equal to 0 represents a perfectly equal distribution of revenue amongst vessels in a fishery, whereas a value of 1.0 represents a perfectly unequal distribution, with a single vessel earning all of the revenue.

Gini coefficients for various Hawaii fisheries by year, 2002-2011.  The Gini coefficient indicates how equally revenue is 
        distributed among active vessels or permit owners.  The Gini scale goes from 0 to 1: a value of 0 means each vessel earned equal 
        revenue, while a value of 1 means a single vessel earned all the revenue.
Gini coefficients for various Hawaii fisheries by year, 2002-2011. The Gini coefficient indicates how equally revenue is distributed among active vessels or permit owners. The Gini scale goes from 0 to 1: a value of 0 means each vessel earned equal revenue, while a value of 1 means a single vessel earned all the revenue.
The graph above shows the Gini coefficients for the three fisheries from 2002 to 2011. Among them, the Hawaii longline fishery has the lowest Gini coefficient (i.e., most equal revenue distribution), averaging 0.24 (range 0.22 to .28), whereas the MHI bottomfish fishery has the highest Gini coefficient (i.e., most concentrated revenue distribution), averaging 0.75 (range 0.69 to 0.79).

For the Hawaii Deep 7 bottomfish fishery, revenue was calculated by license holder instead of by vessel. In this fishery, several fishermen may fish from the same vessel but report their revenue separately under each individual's State of Hawaii-issued Commercial Marine License (CML). Alternatively, during the year a fisherman may fish using several different vessels and report catch and revenue by their individual CML rather than by vessel. So in the bottomfish fishery, the Gini coefficient essentially measures the equality of the distribution of revenue among active fishermen (CML holders) in the fishery. The relatively high Gini coefficient of this fishery is due to the fact that participants in the fishery exhibit a very wide range of effort levels, from very high effort by many commercial bottomfish fishers to only occasional effort by people who are primarily non-commercial bottomfish anglers. The Gini coefficient analysis does not account for the fact that bottomfish fishers usually also participated in other fisheries that can generate revenue (like the pelagic handline fishery).

While the Gini coefficients for both the Hawaii longline fishery and the MHI bottomfish fishery were stable, the Gini coefficient for the American Samoa longline fishery changed greatly from 2002 to 2011. In particular, the Gini coefficient declined from 0.58 in 2002 to 0.22 in 2007 (the average was 0.43 during this period), due to the decline in the number of small vessels (<=40 feet) in the fleet between 2002 and 2006 that had the lowest revenue. Since 2007, the fleet has consisted mostly of large vessels (>70 feet) and revenue by vessel has become more equally distributed, contributing to a drop in the Gini coefficient to values between 0.27 and 0.29.