The gathering of isle fishing data is vital

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (11/11/00)
By Ray Pendleton

All too often, it seems, the world's fisheries have been managed somewhat like the passenger pigeon population.

You remember the passenger pigeon. It was an abundant game bird species in North America in the early part of the last century. Somehow, it was allowed to be hunted until the last bird was blown from the sky.

In a similar fashion, whalers in the 1900's nearly hunted the world's cetaceans to extinction, and even now, commercial fishermen continue to decimate one fishery after another, ocean by ocean.

Rather than studying the health of the world's fisheries for signs of weakness, this management style tends to avoid making the decision of when to slow or stop the harvest until a species has entirely disappeared.

In a direct departure from this form of management, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR) have recently announced their plans for a partnership to reintroduce recreational fishing data collection in Hawai`i.

Such data-gathering has not been done in this state since 1981, due to budget constraints.

As a part of the U.S. Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey, the data gathered will provide fishery managers with the information they need to ensure quality marine angling in Hawai`i.

"We are excited by the prospect of working with the NMFS to once again provide Hawai`i data for fisheries management," said state Programs Manager Mike Nelson.

"This will give all of us involved in Hawaii's recreational fishing the opportunity to demonstrate its value as an important activity to the residents of Hawai`i and as a significant part of our tourism industry," Nelson said.

Beginning next year, the survey will consist of three components:

  • A random digit dialing telephone survey of households to estimate the number of trips resident anglers are making for private boat and shore fishing.
  • A weekly telephone survey of 10 percent of the state's charter boat operators/captains to estimate the number of angler-trips taken.
  • A shore-side intercept survey of private boat, charter boat and shore anglers to collect catch data.

    The sampling strategy will allow for individual estimates of effort, catch and participation for O`ahu, Maui and the Big Island, as well as effort estimates for the state as a whole.

    "The Hawai`i data is like the missing puzzle piece," said NMFS's Maury Osborn. "With this data we will have a more complete picture of recreational fisheries in the U.S. Pacific, and with the recent addition of the U.S. Caribbean, we are one step closer to achieving complete national coverage."

    According to Osborn, the collected data will be used in biological stock assessments and will contribute to fishery management decisions by providing managers with a better understanding of the biological impact and social importance of marine angling.

    "The data can also be used to forecast demand for new angling facilities like piers, marinas and boat ramps and to locate these facilities where they will be the most effective," Osborn said.

    Anyone wishing more information regarding the survey can call Nelson at (808) 587-0100.

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