Compilation, and Statistical Characterization of Historic Longline Data,
Pacific Oceanic Fisheries Investigation 1951-73
reports (PDF): FY
2010, FY 2009, FY
2008, FY 2007
The commercial longline fishery in Hawaii developed rapidly in the
aftermath of World War II. The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
(PIFSC), then known as the Pacific Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (POFI),
and State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, then known as the
Territory of Hawaii, Fish and Game, gathered information on the fishery
through a market-monitoring program. Soon after, the POFI research vessels
J.R. Manning, H.M. Smith, C.H. Gilbert, and T.
Cromwell, and several contracted commercial vessels began exploring
the central Pacific Ocean to determine the distribution and abundance
of the deep swimming tunas and billfishes. From 1951 to 1973, POFI conducted
85 exploratory and assessment longline cruises. Detailed information
on the catches of tunas, billfishes, sharks, and other pelagic species
as well as gear configuration were systematically recorded during the
cruises; however, the condition and performance of individual hooks
(e.g. bait loss, bait loss, and tangling) were not digitally captured
because of record length limitations of the database at that time. Recently,
however, Peter Ward rescued a portion of the hook data (9%) with PFRP
support while attending Dalhousie University. Approximately 650,000
bits of information remain to be rescued. Also because of database limitations
at the time, missing from the database are observational data or metadata
that include fish school, seabird, and marine mammal sightings, fishing
conditions, gear configuration, and ship problems. This project will
digitally rescue metadata and individual hook information from the POFI
With the recent elevated interest in the long-term global depletion
of fishery resources and detrimental changes to the ecosystems, serious
concerns have been raised. These concerns have led to the initiation
of a resolution by the United Nations on restoring fisheries and marine
ecosystems to healthy levels. Generally, fish stocks vary greatly in
abundance and time series analysis exhibit a complex patterns that may
include high frequency oscillation and long-term trends. High frequency
oscillations are thought to arise from environmental variability that
affects reproduction as well as intra and inter-specific competition.
Low frequency oscillations and trends are usually related to external
forcing such as overfishing, climatic changes, and decadal or longer-scale
oscillations in climate. Studies on long-term trends in the abundance
of tunas and billfishes in the Pacific have employed data from the early
1950s, but the results have proven to be equivocal. However, a commonality
in the analyses is the use of summarized historical catch and effort
data. For example, Cox et al. (2002) in estimating population biomass
and recruitment of tunas and billfishes in the central North Pacific
Ocean used what appears to be summarized catch and estimated effort.
Similarly, Myers and Worm (2003) in their study on the rapid depletion
of predatory fish communities used aggregated catch rates. It is beyond
the scope of this proposal to explain the non-uniformity in the results.
Our intention is to provide a means of increasing our knowledge base
as Schnute and Richards (2001) suggested by making available detailed
data and metadata for tunas and billfishes caught on scientific cruises
during the post-war era so that they can be compared to comparable catches
from the modern era.
The second part of the project will be the development of a database
that includes extracted metadata information from historic pelagic data
holdings at the PIFSC. Database tables will include cruise-specific
catch and size composition data, fishing protocol, and experimental
design. The metadata architecture for the database will be developed
in consultation with the designers of the PIFSC InPort application and
in conformity with NOAA Fisheries and spatial metadata standards. Characterization
of the data will use simple descriptive statistical and GIS tools, with
products developed to facilitate examination and use of these data.
For example, sample sizes, estimates of variability, histograms of size
compositon, GIS plots of cruises, abundance and distribution of the
major pelagic species will be prepared and made accessible through a
Web portal. Data permitting, trends in key factors will be developed
and made available.
The four major objectives are:
Electronically capture detailed individual hook information and anecdotal
fishery related observations recorded during the POFI research cruises
from 1951 through 1973.
Integrate the “recovered” data into the PIFSC data holdings.
Develop database tables of metadata, GIS plots of the cruises, abundance
and distribution of the major pelagic species, size and species composition,
and possibly other key resulting information.
Provide electronic access to historical data through webpage portal.
for this 1-year project estimated to be available mid-2006.