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Local Community Effects

This indicator measures fishery-related changes that affect the economic and social life of communities. A number of components comprise this measurement. This project will provide data where available for each component and its sub-indicators.

This indicator has six components (described below):

  • Groundfish Revenues and Landings by State and Port Group
  • Vessel Activity by State and Port Group
  • Crew Employment and Compensation
  • Fishing Support Service Employment
  • Seafood Processor Employment
  • Fishing Vessel and Crew Safety

Access the West Coast Shorebased IFQ Program Interim Results and the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program Interim Results for Social Indicators

Groundfish Revenues and Landings by State and Port Group

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures gross revenues of all landed IFQ species by state and port group. This indicator also includes a comparison of landings (in metric tons) and gross revenue for various port groups.

Why is this indicator important?

This indicator is meant to explore how ex-vessel gross revenues have changed over time and with the implementation of catch shares. Gross revenues are one of the most basic measurements that can help determine if changes in fishery management are having an effect on the economy. It is assumed that the money gained through groundfish landings stays within the region and has a “multiplier effect” through the region, resulting in indirect economic output. At its highest level, this indicator can provide insight as to how the economics of the fishery have changed over time. At the state and port group level, these data can indicate whether some communities have experienced economic growth (or contraction) as a result of changes in the fishery.

How is this indicator measured?

PacFIN has provided data that details landings and revenues for a wide range of IFQ species and ports/port groups. Gross revenues are presented in inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars and landings are presented in metric tons.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

Measurements of gross revenue and landings are relatively standard indicators used to help determine the effects of fishery management programs. However, data from PacFIN include commercial trawl landings from treaty fisheries, which are not included in the catch share program. Data on treaty landings obtained from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife were used to adjust the Groundfish Management Team Reports so as to exclude treaty landings. Another limitation of the PacFIN data is that monthly groundfish landings are not separated by gear type or by shorebased and offshore landings

Vessel Activity by State and Port Group

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the number of active vessels that have made at least one landing of groundfish, per year, by state and port/port group of the landing.

Why is this indicator important?

As discussed at the fishery-wide level, implementation of a catch share program may cause a reduction in the size of the fleet. This consolidation would occur if some vessel owners sell or lease their catch shares and exit the fishery. In combination with information from other indicators, it may be possible to explain why changes occur and to identify social and economic effects of changes. At the port/port group level, the number of fishing vessels that are active in the groundfish fishery has important socioeconomic implications. Under the catch share program, the departure of less efficient vessels from the fishery is expected to lead to a decrease in overall costs of harvesting and a consequent increase in the overall profitability of the harvesting sector. However, the decrease in fleet size may have an effect on the economic and social well-being of some coastal communities and their residents by changing the number of crew members and the length of their fishing employment; the quantity of raw fish available to processors and buyers; and the demand for shoreside vessel support services.

How is this indicator measured?

Metrics for this indicator include the number of vessels making landings, by state and port/port group, for the years 2000-2007.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

As discussed for the fishery as a whole, it is not always possible to reliably identify the cause for a change in fleet size. Other factors besides the consolidation expected under the catch share program may be responsible. These factors may be idiosyncratic to individual ports/port groups, showing large community-level changes over time. For example, increases in costs external to the catch share program, such as for marine fuel, safety equipment, insurance, and moorage, may also contribute to downsizing of the fleet. If prices paid for landings do not rise comparably, the profits of fishing operations diminish and may cause some fishermen to keep their boats tied up to the dock. In addition, while profitability is the major driver for exit, it is probably not the only one; other potential reasons for exit include personal reasons, such as health and retirement.

Crew Employment and Compensation

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator is meant to measure changes in the total number of crew positions and crew income for those fishermen in the limited entry groundfish fishery and all other groundfish fisheries.

Why is this indicator important?

This indicator is meant to explore how employment and compensation of fishing vessel crew has changed over time and with the implementation of catch shares. Catch share management programs may consolidate fleets and extend fishing seasons, both of which affect crew. First, consolidation can result in a change in total crew and full-time equivalent (FTE) employment, and crew opportunities may become concentrated in certain ports. Second, crew sometimes work for more than one catch-share owner over the course of a year; in contrast to a “derby” fishery where these crew were out for a matter of weeks, now they may be engaged in fishing for many months. This change may result in higher pay for remaining crew, but it may have a variety of social impacts on fishermen and their families. For example, it may result in more time away from home, less flexibility to pursue supplemental employment or income-producing opportunities, and greater or lesser return per unit effort.

How is this indicator measured?

Metrics include estimated total employment and income in the limited entry trawl fishery and other groundfish fisheries, by port group, from November 2000 to October 2001. The total employment and income is present in the data, as is a breakdown of employment and income by port/port group. The measurements also include a generalized trend line for limited entry groundfish and other groundfish fisheries, comparing income to employment, which shows which ports/port groups have the highest ratio of income to employment.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

The most striking limitation seen in the West Coast data is the lack of longitudinal information; only one year is available for the West Coast. Additionally, data on crew are notoriously difficult to collect, as there is substantial turnover among crew over even short spans of time. Until recently, indicators related to crew were not consistently collected and much of the information is qualitative in nature, summarizing trends from interviews about very specific issues. Finally, some fishing crew work as part of an informal economy, or “off the books,” where they regularly work for cash and are not tabulated in quantified data collected by management agencies. Thus, many of these crew members are reluctant to be surveyed or provide information about their activities, past or present. Considering these limitations,the data presented here may be skewed but they provide a summary of the quantified data that are currently available for this important stakeholder group.

Fishing Support Service Employment

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator is meant to measure changes in employment in fishing support services over time and with the implementation of the catch share program. Examples of fishing support services include gear hauling and storage businesses, harbors and vessel moorage businesses, marine electronics retailers, and skilled tradesmen/women including welders, electricians, and fiberglass repairers.

Why is this indicator important?

Catch share programs may result in consolidation of the fishing fleet and lengthening of the fishing season. In addition to affecting vessel owners, captains, crew, and seafood processors, these changes could affect shore-side support service businesses. For some businesses, a decline in the number of fishing vessels may lead to a drop in revenue. In some cases, however, a longer fishing season may result in more constant sales over the course of a year. Different kinds of support service businesses may experience different economic effects of catch shares.

How is this indicator measured?

Metrics include those employees associated with the ocean economy, as defined by the NOAA Digital Coast project. These include wage employees and self-employed persons engaged in the following sectors: living resources, marine construction, marine transportation, offshore mineral resources, ship and boat building, and tourism and recreation. It is assumed that those people engaged in the marine construction and ship building sectors are the most engaged in the commercial groundfish fishery.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

One important consideration regarding this indicator is that it may be difficult to determine what should be considered a fishery support service business. For example, welders and mechanics can work on boats as well as cars; grocery stores sell to vessels, but also to the larger community. The data do not disclose which fishery support services are most engaged in the groundfish fishery, so this method will provide an admittedly rough estimate of changes in support service employment without additional research.

Seafood Processor Employment

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the mean and median employment for seafood processors along the coast, as well as estimated production hours by month.

Why is this indicator important?

In addition to economic data such as wholesale value and revenue per unit of catch, processing employment can be an important indicator of how a fishery is affected by a new management system. This indicator will show whether the employment patterns of fish buyers and processors have changed since the implementation of the catch share program. In some coastal communities, a large proportion of the residents work as seafood processing employees. Changes to processor employment could substantially affect the economic and social life of a community. For example, under a “derby” fishery, it is not uncommon for large quantities of fish to arrive at processors, requiring the processors to hire large numbers of short-term workers. Under a catch share management system, landings to processors may be spaced out over the year, potentially resulting in fewer total numbers of processing workers employed for longer times.

How is this indicator measured?

Final data are currently unavailable. However, preliminary information suggests that our team will use metrics measuring the mean and median employment and production hours, by month, for those entities that processed IFQ groundfish. Our team will be able to show how employment changes throughout the year and how mean and median employment/hours have changed under catch shares.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

Good data are available for this indicator, and the results should be very reliable. However, data are not yet available. Once available, information may only be present from 2009 onward. Another limitation is that data from different communities may need to be combined for confidentially reasons, which would make it impossible to see the effects on specific ports of landing.

Fishing Vessel and Crew Safety

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the number of fatalities reported on commercial fishing vessels per year.

Why is this indicator important?

Many people believe that an important benefit of catch share programs is that vessel safety tends to increase. Under a catch share system, captains and vessel owners can choose when to go out to fish their quota, potentially avoiding bad weather and reducing crew fatigue.

How is this indicator measured?

We will measure vessel safety by tabulating changes in the incident rate per year and the type of fatality. Through these metrics, we will be able to determine how the number of incidents has changed over time, whether there is an increased or decreased rate of incidents, and whether the types of incidents have changed. By using several types of measurements, our team will be able to more fully identify whether implementation of catch shares has had any effect on vessel safety.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

Commercial fishing fatalities are relatively well documented, as there are many requirements to report commercial fishing-related fatalities onboard vessels. However, injuries not resulting in fatalities (e.g., acute injuries, repetitive motion injuries) are not well-documented unless U.S. Coast Guard assistance was required. Additionally, publicly available data are not separated out by fishery, so it is difficult to determine which fatalities are attributable solely to the vessels in the groundfish fishery.