Sustainable Fisheries Division

Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey

The Hawaii Marine Recreational Fishing Survey (HMRFS) is a survey in Hawaii devoted to the estimation of recreational landings. The National Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics program was designed to develop statewide, annual estimates of catch by species. In Hawaii, this is accomplished by two separate but complementary surveys: The Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) collects information on shore, private/rental boat and charter fishing trips while the Field Survey (known in Hawaii as the HMRFS) collects catch data from shore, private/rental boat and charter fishermen. Data from the two surveys are combined to produce estimates of total number of fishing trips, total catch (by species), and participation (number of people fishing). NOAA Fisheries contracts with the State of Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources (HDAR) to conduct the field surveys; the telephone household surveys are coordinated at the national level and conducted by a single contractor.

All data collected through the survey are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.

Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS)

The CHTS contacts approximately 14,000 households annually in Hawaii. The survey is only valid for permanent residents within coastal counties, defined as those living in the residence more than six months of the year.

The CHTS is conducted by a NOAA Fisheries contractor who contacts Hawaii households at random to collect data on residents' saltwater recreational fishing activity during the previous two months.

While socio-economic information is not collected as part of the standard questionnaire, economic add-ons are done in one region each year. The economic add-on is a series of additional questions "added on" to the end of the base survey. Education, race and ethnicity, income and questions about fishing behavior are included to help NOAA Fisheries better understand the socio-economic characteristics of recreational fishermen.

Field Survey

Data from the field survey, called the HMRFS in Hawaii, are used to estimate annual catch by species. The HMRFS project collects effort and landings data for over 200 species of fish and invertebrates for recreational fisherman in the shoreline, charter and private boat fisheries. In 2006, DAR interviewed over 5,000 fishermen across the state using a team of 15 surveyors on 5 islands. They do not currently sample on Lana'i.

NOAA provides a target sample size desired by island, and DAR surveyors administer the survey to the fishermen they encounter. They ask questions about the fishing trip, including the gear used, and measure any whole fish that are available. Data are recorded on a survey form, entered into a database, and then sent to NOAA Fisheries headquarters for processing.

NOAA Fisheries uses the relevant data from both surveys to estimate total trips and total catch in Hawaii for a two-month period. At the end of the year, these estimates are aggregated to produce an annual catch estimate, with error ranges, for every species encountered. Final estimates for the previous year are usually available by May. To request preliminary data, contact Stewart Allen at

These data and more details on survey methods are available through NOAA Fisheries' Office of Science & Technology.

Hawaii Saltwater Fishing Expenditure Survey

Every dollar spent at the tackle shop, the grocery store or the gas station goes a long way in supporting local economies. NOAA's 2000 survey showed that Americans spent more than $22 billion on bait, tackle, charters, and other saltwater fishing related activities generating an economic impact of over $30 billion. Results of the 2000 expenditure survey are available in The Economic Importance of Marine Angler Expenditures in the United States (Jan 2004, pdf 1.53 MB).

In 2006, NOAA Fisheries began a new round of expenditure surveys to measure spending by saltwater fishermen and to estimate the economic importance of recreational fishing to our state and national economies. This was the first time NOAA conducted this survey in Hawaii.

Every fisherman who was interviewed dockside or along the shore by the HMRFS in 2006 received a series of questions about their current fishing trip and the money they spent on that trip. They were also asked to participate in a longer follow-up mail survey that collects information on annual expenditures and durable goods, like boats, trailers, rods and reels. Fishermen also volunteered for the mail portion of the survey at local tackle shops and fishing tournaments.

Resulting data will allow NOAA Fisheries to estimate daily expenditures by fishing mode (i.e., private boat, charter and shore) and resident type (resident and non-resident). There will also be detailed estimates of average expenditures per trip, average annual expenses per fisherman on durable goods (boat, cars) and economic impacts for the state of Hawaii, including how many jobs are supported by recreational fishing and the contribution of Hawaii's recreational fishing to the nation's gross domestic product.