Sustainable Fisheries Division

Regional Statistics and Information for Recreational Fisheries

American Samoa
The Mariana Islands


Charter Boat

Number of Participants: At least 150,000 per year (residents and visitors)

Classification: Recreational, subsistence, and commercial fisheries fairly distinct

Boat Ramps and Harbors: 25 small boat harbors and more than 20 ramps

Charter Fleet: 125 active charter vessels; more than 70,000 customers annually

Clubs and Tournaments: 25 active fishing clubs and more than 100 recreational tournaments

Economic Impact: Approximately $450 million in direct annual expenditures; $50 million in direct and indirect revenues for marlin fishing alone

Boat-based recreational fishermen are thought to typically land between 10 and 15 million pounds of fish annually in Hawaii. The most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation estimated that over 150,000 total saltwater anglers fished in the state in 2006.

The number of boats that participate in recreational fishing in Hawaii is likely to number 5,000-6,000 and an additional 1,900 non-commercial bottomfish vessels were registered with the state in 2007.

Recreational fishing is a substantial economic contributor to the State of Hawaii. Direct annual expenditures on recreational fishing are estimated to be approximately $450 million. Marlin (blue and striped), tuna, wahoo, and mahimahi are popular target species among boat anglers.

Hawaii has the most developed recreational fishing infrastructure in the U.S. Pacific, with approximately 25 small boat harbors and 20 boat ramps. This infrastructure helps support over 100 recreational fishing tournaments, about 25 active fishing clubs, and a major recreational fishing publication - the Hawaii Fishing News.

There are about 125 active fishing charter boats operating out of 10 ports in the state and these charters average about one trip every two days. The most recent figures suggest that about 70,000 people participate in charter fishing annually. The economic value of the charter fishing industry in Hawaii may be as high as $20 million, much of this in marlin fishing alone.
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Basket fish trap (enu)

Number of Participants: Not estimated (approximately 65 vessels)

Classification: Co-mingling of recreational, subsistence, and commercial fisheries

Boat Ramps and Harbors: Less than five ramps and 1 small boat harbor

Charter Fleet: Non-existent

Clubs and Tournaments: No clubs; one or two small tournaments per year

Economic Impact: Declining importance - $25 million to GDP between 1982-2002

There is no clear separation between recreational, commercial, and subsistence fisheries in American Samoa because fish from either sector can be sold or used for personal consumption and because data regarding recreational fishing participation are less available presently than for commercial fishing activities.

However, boat-based recreational fishing for leisure only is uncommon in the territory, due to the lack of vessels, tourism, a retail sector, and supporting infrastructure (there are only a few boat ramps and small boat harbors in the territory). Boat-based subsistence fishing in American Samoa primarily involves artisanal fishing by free-divers who spear fish and small-boat fishers who jig for bottomfish.

The territorial Boat-based Creel Survey reported 65 active vessels. Fifty-eight of these were home-ported on Tutuila, while only nine were based in the Manu'a Islands, where only a small fraction of fishing occurs in deeper waters using boats. Many of these vessels participated in more than one fishery. Twenty three boats participated in the troll and bottomfish fisheries and nine were used in other forms of fishing activities.

While American Samoans still consider fishing an important part of their culture and engage in fishing occasionally, the role of subsistence fishing has diminished in recent years as a result of the availability of more store-bought foods as well as increased employment opportunities. The overall economic contribution of non-commercial fisheries appears to have declined substantially in American Samoa, after having contributed almost $25 million to the Territory's GDP over a 20-year time period (1982-2002).

Data on non-commercial catches are scant. However, popular commercial species, by amount landed, are tunas (skipjack, albacore, bigeye, and yellowfin), blue marlin, mahimahi, and wahoo. There is likely to be some species similarity in non-commercial catch in federal waters.

There is no charter fleet in American Samoa and while several organized tournaments targeting pelagic sport fish have been held on an annual basis, only one or two tournament of any note are currently held. Tournaments when they are held typically draw about 20 small local vessels.
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Skipjack tuna on deck

Number of Participants: Not estimated (Approximately 200 vessels in the CNMI and approximately 380 vessels in Guam)

Classification: Co-mingling of recreational, subsistence, and commercial fisheries in each jurisdiction

Boat Ramps and Harbors: Less than ten ramps and less than five boat harbors in each jurisdiction

Charter Fleet: Non-existent in each jurisdiction

Clubs and Tournaments: No clubs in CNMI; one or two tournaments per year 1 club in Guam; one or two tournaments per year

Economic Impact: Little known

As in American Samoa, non-commercial fishing in the Mariana Islands (the CNMI and Guam) cannot be easily distinguished from commercial fishing because 1) many fishing trips contribute to all three sectors, 2) there are few full-time commercial fishers, and 3) fish from either sector can be sold or retained for personal consumption.

In addition, there are strong social obligations to share fish on Guam and in the CNMI, and these obligations extend to all fishery sectors. Though little is known about the economic contribution of recreational fisheries, it is likely that the social and cultural importance of fisheries outweighs any economic value in the Mariana Islands.

In the CNMI, non-commercial fishing takes place in all fisheries. However, since non-commercial fishing has been subject to limited monitoring in recent years, detailed information about recreational catches is generally not available.

The bottomfish fishery consists of two sectors: shallow-water (100 to 500 ft) and deepwater (greater than 500 ft). Both of these sectors are comprised primarily of local boats less than 25 feet in length that fish within a 30-50 mile radius of Saipan. In addition, about 150 skiffs fish the islands and banks from Rota to Zealandia Bank north of Sariguan.

Recreational fishermen participating in the shallow-water bottomfish fishery tend to use hand lines, home-fabricated hand reels, and electric reels. Fishing trips are often restricted to daylight hours, with vessels presumed to return before or soon after sunset, unless fishing in the northern islands. The red-gilled emperor is a prime target species.

There is also a small subsistence component to the pelagic fishery. Typically, a portion of the landings are sold to cover trip expenses. The primary target and most marketable species for the pelagic fleet is skipjack tuna, which comprises well above 50 percent of landings.

Guam's domestic boat-based fisheries can be subdivided into trolling, bottom-fishing, and reef-based spear-fishing in areas not easily accessed from shore.

There are currently about 380 small boats that participate in Guam's pelagic fishery. Offshore fishing typically involves small, recreational-type boats between 12 and 48 feet in length that undertake 1 to 2-day trolling and bottom fishing trips.

In 2008, trollers made about 6,694 trips, bottom fishers made about 3,321 trips, and spear fishers made about 1,185 trips. These fisheries landed approximately 693,000 pounds of fish. The majority of offshore harvests were landed by trolling and consisted primarily of five pelagic species: skipjack tuna, mahimahi, albacore tuna, blue marlin, and wahoo. Snappers, groupers, jacks, and emperors also comprise a substantial portion of the shallow and deep bottomfish catch.

Charter fishing in Guam and the CNMI is undertaken by approximately 10 boats in each jurisdiction. In Guam, several of these boats cater almost exclusively to military personnel. The charter fleets of the Mariana Islands have historically been highly susceptible to economic fluctuations, especially in the Asian markets. Despite the limited number of boats, pelagic charter fishing vessels made about 2000 trips in 2006 and it has been estimated that charter fishing accounts for up to 20 percent of all bottomfish trips in Guam.

Recreational facilities, such as boat ramps and marinas, do exist in the CNMI and Guam, but are not plentiful - there are less than five small boat harbors and less than ten boat ramps in each jurisdiction. Fishing clubs are also rare in the Mariana Islands and only a few boat-based tournaments are held each year.

In the CNMI, the Saipan International Fishing Tournament is held in August, during the marlin season and the Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association sponsors the annual Guam Marianas International Fishing Derby. In recent years, participation in the derby has been averaging 70 vessels and 300 fishermen.
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