Comparing Fisher Interviews, Logbooks, and Catch Landings Estimates of Extraction Rates in a Small-Scale Fishery

Researchers are turning to alternative data sources (e.g., resource user knowledge) to provide information required for wildlife management. Little is known about the reliability of data elicited from resource users relative to data obtained from user-independent approaches (e.g., observations of fish catches). We test for consensus among three methods that quantify past (1996 to 2007) seahorse catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) for a small-scale, data-poor fishery in the Philippines: interviews with fishers about good, bad, and typical catch; fisher logbooks; and observations of catch landings.

Interviews and logbooks indicated no trends in CPUE through time, consistent with results from the fisher-independent metric, catch landings. Although interview estimates of “typical” CPUE greatly exceeded “typical” observed catches and logbook estimates, interview estimates of “bad” CPUE were comparable. Catch landings estimates for a fisher in a particular year were uncorrelated to what he reported during retrospective interviews.

Interviews should be used cautiously to inform specific catch targets (e.g., total allowable catches), although including interview questions about a range of catch experiences (e.g., good, bad and typical), may improve interview-derived data. Logbooks are particularly useful for capturing information about fishing expeditions that produce no fish, which are largely missed by other methods.

O’Donnell, K.P., P.P. Molloy and A.C.J. Vincent. 2012.  Comparing fisher interviews, logbooks, and catch landings estimates of extraction rates in a small-scale fishery. Coastal Management 40(6):594-611.