Study Explores Information Sharing Networks in Hawaii's Longline Fishery

PIFSC researchers have begun a study to understand how the social relationships of Hawaii longline fishermen, and specifically information-sharing networks, might influence outcomes in the fishery. The study used a survey to collect information about whom fishermen most frequently contacted for information and advice on fishery regulations, vessel technology, and bycatch, and how often.

The fishery is currently made up of three distinct ethnic groups: Korean-American fishers, Vietnamese-American fishers, and European-American fishers. The study indicates that most trusted information sharing occurs within, rather than across, ethnic groups. In addition, results show that the Korean-American fishing community, and to a lesser extent the European-American community, substantially lack trusted relationships with industry leaders and fishery management officials. The study suggests that, for now, fishery managers can ensure information dissemination throughout the fishery by contacting each ethnic group separately. The study suggests that in the long term information-sharing would be enhanced via increased interaction and trust between ethnic groups, and between fishers and management officials. These results were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecology and Society.

Hawaii's longline fishery information sharing networks, adapted from Barnes-Mauthe et al. 2013, Ecology and Society 
        18(1):23. Shapes represent actors, lines represent information sharing ties. E-A = European-American fishers, V-A = 
        Vietnamese-American fishers, and K-A = Korean-American fishers.
Hawaii's longline fishery information sharing networks, adapted from Barnes-Mauthe et al. 2013, Ecology and Society 18(1):23. Shapes represent actors, lines represent information sharing ties. E-A = European-American fishers, V-A = Vietnamese-American fishers, and K-A = Korean-American fishers.

Subsequently, additional analysis explored whether specific socio-demographic or other personal characteristics might be contributing to this "social network capital". Results showed that ethnicity, activity in local fishing organizations, information sharing attitudes, and measures of human capital (such as title/tenure and experience fishing) were significant factors affecting social network capital. This suggests that when substantial or controversial change is desired or necessary, individuals with higher levels of fishing experience and who have lived in the community longer, or those with positive attitudes toward information sharing and who are more active in fishing organizations (without holding a formal position in those organizations) might be more effective at disseminating such information.