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A Sociocultural Study of Pelagic Fishing Activities in Guam

Progress Reports (PDF): FY 2001, FY 1999, FY 1998 (see below)

Project Overview
The main objectives of this study are to:
  • determine the social dimensions of pelagic fishing in Guam, using a combination of assessments of existing data and gathering new data;
  • describe the demographic and sociological profile of pelagic fishers in Guam, including socio-economic status, ethnicity, age, and geographic residence;
  • describe the activity systems of pelagic fishers in Guam, including a time/effort analysis of activities, and the relationship of pelagic fishing activities to other fishing activities and customary social behavior;
  • describe contemporary indigenous categories of fishing activities, and assess the cultural and commercial value(s) attached to each activity;
  • assess the potential impact of various management regimes that might be imposed by the Government of Guam and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on fishing activity.

Field methodologies will be developed in collaboration with University of Hawaii researchers working on a parallel study which focuses on the fishing communities of American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Project 2078, PI: Michael Hamnett).

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Donald Rubinstein
University of Guam
Micronesian Area Research Center
UOG Station
Mangilao, Guam 96923
Phone (671) 734-4473
FAX (671) 734-7403
email: rubinste@uog.ed

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Progress Report - July 1998

PIs: Donald H. Rubinstein, Thomas K. Pinhey, Project Directors

Purpose of the Project and Some Indicative Results

This project focuses on the social and cultural dimensions of pelagic fishing on Guam. The purpose of the project is to describe the demographic and social characteristics of pelagic fishers on Guam, including the socio-economic status, ethnicity, age, and geographic residence of pelagic fishers. The project is also designed to describe the "activity systems" of pelagic fishers, including an analysis of the time and effort that go into pelagic fishing activities, the relationship of these activities to other fishing activities and to customary social behavior, and the locally-recognized categories of fishing activities. Furthermore, the project is designed to assess the cultural and commercial value attached to each activity, and to assess the potential impact of various governmental management regimes that might be imposed on pelagic fishing activity.

Results of the project to date are based upon forty-eight (48) respondents who completed the questionnaire and whose responses have been coded, keyed, and analyzed. A preliminary socio-demographic profile of pelagic fishers has emerged from these data, and this profile suggests that pelagic fishing activity is well-distributed across the community in terms of ethnicity, age, income, and employment status, although in some regards the population of pelagic fishers is distinctive. For example, the ethnicity of pelagic fishers in Guam generally mirrors the ethnic profile of the community, although Micronesians (predominately citizens of FSM and Palau residing in Guam) appear to be over-represented, while Filipinos appear to be under-represented in the pelagic fishing population. The preliminary data also indicate significant social differences among individuals who engage in the various fishing methods, e.g. trolling, bottom fishing, spear-fishing, net-casting, etc. Trollers appear to be older individuals with higher incomes, who typically own their own boats, as compared with individuals who practice other forms of fishing. In other regards, e.g. their length of residence, both trollers and other fishers are equally long-term residents of their village. Preliminary analysis of the data also indicate interesting patterns of fish distribution: over half of the fish caught is given away, mainly for family and fiesta occasions.

Accomplishments since Funding was Received

Although this project was designed as a three-year effort, with a proposed start date of January 1, 1996, the project did not begin until mid-1996 due to delays in finalizing the contract and receiving funding. During the past two years we have used only the funds allocated for the first year of the project. Work under this contract began in May 1996 when project directors Drs. Pinhey and Rubinstein traveled to Hawaii for a planning meeting with Principal Investigator, Dr. Sibert, and with project directors, Drs. Franco, Hamnett, and Severance. In June 1996 a draft survey instrument was developed for Guam, and two research assistants hired. Both research assistants were graduate students in the Micronesian Studies Masters Degree Program at the University of Guam. The survey instrument was field-tested in July 1996 on a purposive sample of 10 fishers, then revised and finalized.

Between July 1996 and June 1997, the research assistants identified and interviewed 48 fishermen who use the Agana Boat Basin. The project directors occasionally accompanied the research assistants. In May of 1997 one of the research assistants took up residence in Merizo and attempted to contact the estimated 15-25 fishermen using the Merizo Boat basin in southern Guam. He was not successful in interviewing these individuals. Finding and interviewing pelagic fishermen has proceeded more slowly than anticipated, and in August of 1997 both research assistants left the project because of other demands on their time. On the basis of their contacts and interviews with fishermen, they estimated that there may be significantly fewer pelagic fishermen currently active on Guam than the 200 individuals that the project directors had initially estimated in the project application.

Fieldwork on this project was not conducted during the period August 1997 to June 1998. Dr. Pinhey attended the meeting of principal investigators in Honolulu in November 1997 and reported preliminary analyses of the data. Other than Dr. Pinhey's travel, expenses were not incurred on the project during the period August 1997 to June 1998. Dr. Pinhey will retire from the University of Guam in July of 1998 and will move back to California.

Plans for the Next 12 Months

Dr. Pinhey will take with him a data set, and will be able to continue data analysis on this project after moving to California. Dr. Rubinstein will remain as Project Director at the University of Guam. Dr. Rubinstein will be engaged with the project during the summer months and fall semester of 1998.

During the next 12 months we intend to continue to locate and interview fishermen who were missed during the initial year of the project. We intend to work with mayors' offices in the southern part of the island, and the Guam Fisherman's Co-op in Agana, to locate fishermen. Interviews wi11 be coded and added to the existing data set, and further analyses will be conducted. We will complete the data entry and cleaning, and will prepare descriptive tables of the sample. We also intend to prepare papers for publication that show analyses of ethnic and socio-demographic patterns among fishers and fish distribution.

Budget for the Next Round of Funding

This project was designed originally as a three-year effort. Funds allocated for the Year 1 of the project have been expended, and all tasks designated within Year 1 have been completed, as described above. Because of the delay in project onset and implementation, Year 1 funds expended less quickly than anticipated, and have been adequate to cover work during the period June 1996 to June 1998. We have received Year 2 funds, and we are continuing with project activities designated for Year 2 in the original proposal.

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This page updated August 22, 2006