NOAA 2001-R129
Contact: Connie Barclay

Hawaiians to Participate in National Survey

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, announced today that for the first time in twenty years scientists will be working closely with state and other officials to gather recreational fishing data in Hawaii. Budget constraints have not allowed the agency to collect comprehensive marine recreational fishing data in that state since 1981.

"The Hawaii data is like a missing puzzle piece," said Dr. William Fox, director of the NOAA fisheries' Office of Science and Technology. "With this new data, we will have a more complete picture of recreational fisheries in the U.S. Pacific. With the recent addition of the U.S. Caribbean, we are one step closer to achieving complete national coverage."

NOAA fisheries will be working closely with the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources to collect data from July 2001 through June 2002 using a newly developed Hawaii Marine Recreational Fisheries Survey. The HMRFS is a joint effort of the NOAA fisheries' Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey program in coordination with ongoing HDAR efforts to improve monitoring of Hawaii recreational fisheries. These data are essential for biological stock assessments and for understanding the biological impact and importance of marine angling in the state.

The HMRFS is being conducted through funding supplied by NOAA fisheries ($200,000) along with funds from the state of Hawaii ($100,000) to gather the needed data. Using random telephone surveys, interviews of private and charter boat fishers, and telephone surveys targeting Hawaiian charter boat operators and captains, surveyors plan to collect data to provide federal and state fishery managers with the information they need to ensure quality marine recreational fishing resources in the state.

The NOAA MRFSS researchers will provide the methodology and estimation expertise for the Hawaii recreational fisheries survey while HDAR is providing the specialized knowledge of Hawaii's recreational fisheries and local interviewers who will collect the raw data. The MRFSS team has supplied essential marine recreational fisheries information to government, scientists, and the public since 1979. The purpose of the national survey is to provide a reliable database for estimating the impact of recreational fishing on marine resources. With new HMFRS data, experts will now be able to generate estimates of recreational saltwater fishing effort, catch and participation on a bi-monthly basis. This timely information will allow marine recreational businesses and others within the recreational fishing industry to better plan for future salt water anglers. The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council also will be able to use this new data in future recreational fishery management decision making.

This impact can be quite large for many recreationally fished species. In 2000, over nine million anglers made an estimated 76 million marine fishing trips to the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. The estimated marine recreational finfish catch was 429 million fish, more than 57 percent of which were released alive. In 1999, U.S. recreational fishermen spent almost $9 Billion which translates into more than $25 Billion to the U.S. economy. Recreational fishers in Hawaii, fishing in both salt and fresh water, spent $130 million in 1996, the last time such economic information was collected (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate).

"Recreational fishing is an important activity to the residents of Hawaii, and also supports a significant tourism industry," said Mike Nelson, the Hawaiian project manager. "This will give all of us involved in Hawaii recreational fishing the opportunity to demonstrate its value and significant resource contribution."

NOAA fisheries started conducting random digital dialing telephone surveys in Hawaii in February 2001. The HDAR plans to begin intercept surveys of private boat anglers for catch data on the island of Oahu in August of 2001, and expand to the islands of Hawaii and Maui through the fall of 2001. Surveys of charter boat anglers for catch data will begin on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii in August 2001. The HDAR will also start conducting weekly telephone sampling of charter boat captains throughout the state in August.

More information about the surveys and current saltwater angling catch, effort, and participation data are available through the MRFSS Web page at: Final estimates for Hawaii will be available to scientists and the public late in 2002.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat.

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