Has the financial viability of the fishery changed?
Indicators: Landings | Revenues
The almost steady decrease in groundfish landings since the early 1980s has been accompanied by a decline in groundfish gross revenues in real dollars. During the first four years of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, groundfish gross revenues were approximately 23 percent lower than the annual average for the previous nine-year period. Prices for important species such as Atlantic cod and haddock were high in 2010-2012 but declined in 2013.
This indicator shows changes in groundfish gross revenues, which affect the financial viability of fishing operations participating in the catch share fishery.
Baseline: Before Catch Share Program
The charts provided show the project baseline (first tab) along with an extended baseline (second tab) that spans three decades and provides additional context. All gross revenue values have been adjusted for inflation.
The decline in commercial landings of groundfish species since the early 1980s (Groundfish Landings) was accompanied by a decline in groundfish revenues. Total groundfish revenues during the 2005 through 2009 period were 29 percent of those from 1980 through 1984. From 2005 through 2009, the average annual value of landings of Atlantic cod, a species of historical importance in the fishery (History of Fishery), was about 28 percent of the value from 1980 through 1984.
From 2007 through 2009, the distribution of revenues across the groundfish fleet was fairly constant, with about 68 percent of revenues from groundfish sales concentrated in the top 20 percent of active vessels.
During Catch Share Program
Groundfish revenues in 2010-2013 were approximately 23 percent lower than the previous nine-year annual average due to the decline in landings (Groundfish Landings). Prices were relatively high for important species such as Atlantic cod and haddock in 2010-2012. The strong prices could reflect lower supply, and they might show that fishermen were taking advantage of the flexibility of the catch share program by harvesting certain species when market prices were higher. In 2013, however, total groundfish revenues hit a four-year low of $57.5 million, as landings decreased for 14 of the 16 allocated stocks and annual average prices decreased for 6 of the stocks. The largest price decreases occurred for commercially important species such as cod, haddock, and winter flounder. Declines in both price and quantity occurred for cod, plaice, and redfish. The downward pressure on prices in groundfish markets was likely caused by increases in production in overseas groundfish fisheries.
During the first year of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, there was an increasing concentration of groundfish revenues among the top-earning vessel affiliations. In 2010, the highest-earning 20 percent of vessel affiliations accounted for about 84 percent of the total revenues from groundfish sales, an increase of approximately 7 percentage points compared to the 2007 through 2009 baseline years. The distribution of groundfish revenues among vessels in 2011 and 2012 was similar to 2010, but the proportion of total groundfish revenues earned by the top 20 percent of vessel affiliations grew by some 4 percentage points in 2013.
Data Gaps and Limitations
Detailed cost data necessary for calculation of changes in profitability resulting from the catch share program are presently not available. However, the NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center is collecting data through the Annual Cost Survey that may help clarify these program effects.
Kitts, A. et al. 2011. 2010 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2010-April 2011), 2nd Edition. National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 11-19. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/
Murphy, T. et al. 2012. 2011 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2011-April 2012). National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 12-30. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/
Murphy, T. et al. 2014. 2012 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2012-April 2013). National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 14-01. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/
National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013. Annual Commercial Landing Statistics. Available online: http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/st1/commercial/
New England Fishery Management Council. 2009. Final Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan Including a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. Newburyport, MA. Available online: www.nefmc.org
Scheld, A. and C. Anderson. 2014. Market Effects of Catch Share Management: The Case of New England Multispecies Groundfish. ICES Journal of Marine Science 71(7):1835-1845.
Updated: October 2015
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