PIFSC researcher participates in Hanauma Bay Education Program Seminar Series

Justin Hospital, an economist with the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program presented recent research on the Hawaii bottomfish fishery at the “Sundays at the Bay” Education Outreach Seminar Series hosted by UH Sea Grant and the Hanauma Bay Education Program held at beautiful Hanauma Bay in Honolulu, HI on January 11, 2015. The series theme for January 2015 is “Science and Sustainable Seafood”.

Justin Hospital of the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program

Justin Hospital of the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program

The talk began with an introduction to Hawaii bottomfish species and described fishing techniques and traditions. A concise overview of catch trends and management changes in the fishery was followed by a discussion of the challenges associated with monitoring catch. The remainder of the talk provided results from recent economic and social science research efforts in the fishery, including work to assess (a) fisher perspectives, (b) consumer demand, and (c) fisher behavior.

A survey of the Hawaii bottomfish fleet in 2010 established important baselines on the economics of bottomfish fishing by collecting information on trip costs, annual expenditures, and investment in the fishery. Additionally, the research documented fisher perspectives on: (i) the economic, social and cultural importance of bottomfish; (ii) fisher classification; (iii) opinions towards managing agencies; (iv) satisfaction with both past and current management tools; and (v) attitudes towards fishery conditions, market conditions, and future management alternatives.

A consumer demand model was described which provides for a better understanding of the economic trade-offs of quota-based management and provides a measure of substitutability for fish species in the Hawaii bottomfish market. The research found that bottomfish are not very responsive to own-quantity changes meaning that decreases in catch quotas may result in relatively small increases in prices which complicates efforts to balance long term conservation with short term economic considerations. Also, all species in the market were found to be substitutes such that reductions in quota levels for one group of species could induce unintended spillover effects in the form of increased prices for unregulated species, which in turn could affect fishing effort and raise monitoring concerns.

What do fishermen do with their bottomfish catch?  [Hospital and Beavers, 2012]

What do fishermen do with their bottomfish catch? [Hospital and Beavers, 2012]

Lastly, preliminary work looking to describe fisher behavior was presented. Several modeling approaches were used to empirically estimate the influence of trip expenses, fisher classification, and cultural factors on market participation (percentage of fish sold) in the Hawaii bottomfish fishery. Due to the social and cultural importance associated with targeted species, most commercially-licensed fishermen retain portions of catch for personal home consumption and customary exchange within their communities. This behavior complicates fishery monitoring and raises concerns related to the scale of unreported catch in the fishery. Results highlight the complexities associated with predicting market participation in Hawaii small boat fisheries.

The take home points for the talk were:

  • The Hawaii bottomfish fishery is an interesting and unique artisanal fishery with significant social, cultural and economic importance.
  • Social sciences are key disciplines in contributing to sustainable fisheries management.
  • Local seafood consumers should be aware that Hawaii bottomfish populations are healthy and sustainably managed through science-based annual catch limits.

For results of recent bottomfish research by the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program click here.

To learn more about the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program check out our website.

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