Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Hawaii
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Grabowski TB, Benedum ME, Curley A, Dill De-Sa C, & Shuey ML. 2023. Pandemic-driven changes in the Hawaiian nearshore noncommercial fishery: analysis of catch photos posted to social media captures changing fisher behavior in response to disruptive events. PeerJ 11:e14994. .


How does a global pandemic alter fishing behaviors in Hawaiian nearshore fisheries? Using social media, we collect evidence for how nearshore fisheries are impacted by the global pandemic in Hawai’i. We later confirm our social media findings and obtain a more complete understanding of the changes in nearshore non-commercial fisheries in Hawaiʻi through a more conventional approach - speaking directly with fishers. We find that resource users posted nearly three times as often during the pandemic with nearly double the number of fishes pictured per post. We also find that individuals who fished for subsistence were more likely to increase the amount of time spent fishing and relied more on their catch for food security. Furthermore, we find that individuals fishing exclusively for subsistence were more likely to fish for different species during the pandemic than individuals fishing recreationally. Traditional data collection methods are resource-intensive and this study shows that social media data can be used to rapidly collect data and predict changes in nearshore fisheries due to large scale disturbances. As climate change threatens additional disturbances, it will be necessary for resource managers to collect reliable data efficiently to prevent species collapse and to better target monitoring and management efforts.