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Hawai‘i Pelagic Fishing Tournament Survey Underway

May 16, 2018

Survey underway to assess how fishing tournaments contribute to the local economy in Hawai‘i.


Have you ever wondered how fishing tournaments contribute to the local economy in Hawai‘i? Probably not, but now that the idea is out there, you’re probably curious, right? Information about tournament fishing can help answer questions about Hawaii’s fisheries and the local businesses they support.

Tournament participant guides large pelagic catch onto fishing boat.

Tournament participant guides large pelagic catch onto fishing boat. (Photo credit: Sterling Kaya)

If we know how much money fishing tournament participants and operators spend and earn, we can make baseline estimates of how it contributes to the rest of Hawaii’s economy, like how it supports businesses and jobs. Assessments like these can help fishery managers evaluate economic impacts to fisheries and the businesses that depend on them when there are economic or regulatory changes, or shifts in natural phenomena or species abundance. 

This summer, NOAA Fisheries intends to survey approximately 20 Hawai‘i fishing tournaments targeting pelagic species, chosen to represent the diversity of fishing tournaments across the state. We will ask operators of these tournaments to provide data on tournament operating costs and revenues.

The participant survey asks a few general questions about a team, their expenditures associated with event participation and travel costs, and their prior fishing experience. 


Hawaii pelagic fishing tournament participants posing with their ahi at weigh-in. (Photo credit: Sterling Kaya)

Each tournament operator will receive survey forms in person or by mail and can mail back their completed forms. All team captains will receive a copy of the participant questionnaire to fill out on behalf of their fishing team. At some tournaments, we will provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope to mail back the survey; at other tournaments, participants may also return surveys in person at the weigh-in to a NOAA Fisheries representative.  

Completion of the survey, while highly encouraged, is voluntary. With a small sample size (number of people being surveyed), it is important to have as many completed surveys as possible for better statistical accuracy in the results of the study.

NOAA Fisheries takes participant's privacy seriously. Individual responses will be protected and will not be released for public use except in aggregate statistical form. Individual data will be combined with information from other respondents to present an overall view of the economic impact of Hawaii pelagic tournaments. 

Preliminary Results from Atlantic and Gulf Coast Surveys

What might this fishing tournament data look like? This survey is part of a series of surveys that NOAA Fisheries is conducting on regional fishing tournaments. Preliminary results from the surveys of Atlantic and Gulf Coast 2016 fishing tournaments are now publicly available. Tournament operators and participants from 220 tournaments were surveyed from 5 U.S. regions: New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean.

reliminary results from the Atlantic and Gulf fishing tournament surveys. Tournament participant team expenditures.

Preliminary results from the Atlantic and Gulf fishing tournament surveys. Tournament participant team expenditures.


The preliminary results show that along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, the average fishing tournament team spends over $13,000, with over half of that in entry fees alone.  The combined expenditures from all fishing tournament teams were over $85 million. The net earnings of fishing tournament operators averaged $16,046 per tournament, and totaled an estimated $3.5 million for all 220 tournaments surveyed. 

The total contribution of the Atlantic and Gulf fishing tournaments from participants and operators supported 1,369 full-time equivalent jobs, and generated over $230 million in economic output throughout the regions. 

The results of these surveys will help NOAA Fisheries better understand how fishing tournaments contribute to coastal communities.