How much does a longline fishing trip cost?

Since 2004, the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program – in collaboration with the NOAA Observer Program managed by the Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO) – has maintained an ongoing trip-level economic data collection program for Hawaii longline fisheries. The establishment of this routine economic data collection program provides timely information to support management of these fisheries. Economic data collected are used for (but not limited to): 1) Assessing the economic viability and stability of the fisheries; 2) Measuring the economic importance to local economies and the value of fisheries; and 3) Analyzing the economic impacts of various policy options.

Trip costs for Hawaii longline tuna fishing trips, 2004-2015

An average tuna trip cost about $25,500 in 2015, excluding labor costs. Over the period 2004-2015, the average trip cost in the Hawaii tuna longline fishery nearly doubled (in nominal value), from $13,800 per trip to $25,500 per trip, due primarily to increases in fuel prices. In 2004, fuel costs made up about 46% of total trip costs, whereas it comprised 54% in 2015. Average tuna trip costs have increased gradually over time, peaking in 2012. In 2012, the average yearly fuel price as reported by fishermen reached a high of $3.90 per gallon (average consumer prices as reported by AAA was $4.78/gallon at the time), which comprised nearly 58% of the non-labor trip costs. The recent drop in fuel prices during 2015 resulted in decreased overall fishing costs in 2015 relative to prior years (16% lower than the 2012 peak).


Trip costs for Hawaii longline swordfish fishing trips, 2005-2015

Swordfish fishing trips are usually more expensive than tuna fishing trips, even when trips are carried out by the same vessel, mostly due to longer trip length and subsequently a higher proportion of fuel cost in its trip expenditures. On average, the cost of a swordfish trip is approximately double that of a tuna fishing trip. In 2015, the average swordfish trips cost $42,200. In 2012 when the average yearly fuel price was at its peak, an average swordfish trip cost over $57,600, while a tuna trip cost about $30,700 during the same year. Similar to tuna trips, with the substantial drop of fuel price in 2015, the average trip costs for swordfish fishing decreased relative to recent years (27% less than the peak costs in 2012).


More data products based the data collection program led Dr. Minling Pan, can be found on the PIFSC website, click for:

Hawaii longline

American Samoa longline

For more information about this research or to comment on survey results, feel free to contact us:

For more information about other research from the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program visit our website or browse recent blog posts.

Researchers assess economic productivity for Hawaii longline fishery

image1 (1) (1)PIFSC Socioeconomics Program researcher Dr. Minling Pan, in collaboration with Northeast Fisheries Science Center economist Dr. John Walden, recently published a study measuring productivity changes in the Hawaii longline fishery in the journal Marine Policy. Fisheries productivity is the result of many factors, including exogenous and endogenous elements, such as regulation and stock condition. Understanding changes in productivity and the factors affecting that change is important to fishery management and a sustainable fishing industry. This work represents the first study to measure productivity change in the Hawaii longline fishery, the largest fresh bigeye tuna and swordfish producer in the United States.

A biomass quantity index is constructed to disentangle biomass impacts in a pelagic environment in order to arrive at an “unbiased” productivity metric. This is particularly important in the Hawaii longline fishery where catches rely mostly on transboundary (shared) stocks with little control on the total amount of extraction. As resource depletion of the transboundary stocks occurs, productivity losses may follow if less output is obtained from the same input usage, or more inputs are used to extract the same catch level from the fishery.

Using a Lowe productivity index, productivity change in the Hawaii longline fleet between 2000 and 2012 is measured in this study.Overall, unadjusted (“biased”) productivity in the Hawaii longline fishery showed a declining trend since 2005. However, once biomass change was used to adjust the index values, the negative productivity change turned positive (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Unbiased and biased Lowe index for tuna trips 2002 to 2012 (base year = 2005)

Figure 1. Unbiased and biased Lowe index for tuna trips 2002 to 2012 (base year = 2005)

While bigeye tuna biomass has trended down in recent years, fishing productivity has improved, as the unbiased productivity index (the adjusted Lowe index) went up steadily from 0.84 in 2009 to 1.36 in 2012. During the study time period, especially since 2010, analytical results show that tuna fishing became more productive in terms of endogenous productivity (e.g., fishing technology). Such an improvement of endogenous productivity has offset the negative impact of the bigeye stock depletion and kept the fishery stable in terms of output to input ratio. Without such an improvement in productivity, the tuna fishery would have had much poorer performance due to the depletion of the shared fish resources. Finally, the study compares productivity change under different fishing technologies and finds evidence that tuna fishing seems to be more efficient compared to swordfish fishing.

For more information about this and other research from the PIFSC Socioeconomics Program visit our websitebrowse recent blog posts, or contact us by email: