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Have economic and social effects on local communities changed?

Indicator: Crew Employment and Compensation

Key Findings

The total numbers of groundfish vessel crew positions and crew trips, by fishing year, for all home port states have decreased through the baseline period and into the initial years of the catch share program. The number of crew positions serves as an indicator of the available jobs, whereas the number of crew trips is the number of trips available for crew to work, or the total opportunities for crew to earn a share of the landings revenues. States with the highest involvement in the fishery (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine) experienced an overall decrease in crew trips and the number of crew positions per vessel remained relatively constant. Average crew compensation in the groundfish fishery generally declined from 2009 to 2013. However, total crew compensation increased from 2009 to 2011, because of higher revenues in 2011 compared to other years, and then declined in 2012 and 2013 as the number of active vessels decreased. Crew on 30- to 50-foot vessels continued to have the highest average earnings per individual per day. Non-groundfish crew experienced some variation in earnings with an overall increase in average earnings since 2009. Total crew compensation was highest in 2011, with the most total earnings going to crew on vessels 75 feet and above.

Interactive Charts

Metrics

This indicator shows the number of crew positions and the dollar amount of crew earnings, as a component of local community effects of the catch share fishery.

Analysis

Baseline: Before Catch Share Program (2002-2009)

Crew Positions

The total number of crew positions by fishing year decreased throughout the project baseline, from approximately 2,700 to approximately 2,400. Although most of the states had relatively consistent, slow declines between 2007 and 2009, Massachusetts—which had the most crew positions—had a 12.2 percent decline from 2007 to 2009.

Crew Trips

The total number of crew trips for all states fluctuated during the project baseline, with an initial decrease followed by a small increase from 2008 to 2009. Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts experienced a similar trend. Maine experienced an overall increase of 7 percent between 2007 and 2009, while New Hampshire’s crew trips increased approximately 6 percent, and Massachusetts had about a 1 percent increase. In contrast, Rhode Island had a consistent, slow decline throughout the baseline period. New Jersey experienced a unique trend, as the only home port state where there was an increase in crew trips from 2007 to 2008 (3.2 percent), followed by a steep decrease (18.5 percent) from 2008 to 2009. In New York, the number of crew trips did not change appreciably during the project baseline.

Crew Positions per Vessel

When the total number of crew positions is divided against the total number of active vessels (Vessel Activity by State and Port Group), we see that the crew positions per vessel ranged between three and five for most home port states from 2007 to 2009. However, vessels homeported in New Jersey and other states to the south had more crew positions per vessel.

Average Crew Compensation

The only year of the project baseline (2002-2009) for which data were available was 2009. Those data show that average crew compensation in dollars per day differed between groundfish and non-groundfish crews, and it also varied widely depending on size of vessel. At $372 per day, groundfish crew on vessels 75 feet and above in length received the lowest average crew share among groundfish vessel size classes. The highest compensation—over $1,100 per day—went to groundfish crew working on vessels between 30 and 75 feet in length. Similarly, non-groundfish crew working on vessels 30 to 75 feet received higher compensation per day on average than those on smaller and larger vessels. However, non-groundfish crew tended to receive lower compensation than groundfish crew. The exception was on vessels 75 feet and above, where non-groundfish crew earned more than groundfish crew.

Total Crew Compensation

In 2009, the total crew share for the entire groundfish fishery was approximately $71.7 million (in $2013) of which more than half ($40.8 million) went to crew from Massachusetts. By vessel size category, the total crew compensation was highest for vessels 75 feet and above ($31 million), followed by vessels between 50 and 75 feet ($26.6 million). It was lowest for vessels less than 30 feet (just over $110,000, representing less than 0.2 percent of the fishery total).

During Catch Share Program 

Crew Positions and Crew Trips

Following implementation of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, crew positions and crew trips decreased approximately 15.6 percent and 28.0 percent, respectively, from 2009 to 2013. The number of active vessels also decreased substantially (Vessel Activity by State and Port Group). Massachusetts had the largest drop of all home port states in recent years following implementation of the catch share program, with a 13.4 percent decrease in crew positions from 2010 (19.8 percent decrease from 2009) and an 18.2 percent decrease in crew trips from 2010 (37.2 percent decrease from 2009). In Massachusetts, total crew positions have declined only slowly since implementation of the catch share program, whereas crew trips in that state dropped substantially from 2009 to 2010 before decreasing at slower rate from 2010 to 2013.

Crew Positions per Vessel

The average number of crew positions per vessel generally increased following the implementation of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program. In those states that are the most involved in the fishery, including Massachusetts and Maine, there was an immediate average increase seen in 2010, with an average of six crew positions per vessel in 2013. The largest increases in crew positions per vessel occurred in Connecticut, New Jersey, and other coastal states outside of New England, suggesting that those vessels that have remained in the fishery following implementation of the program are larger and require more crew.

Average Crew Compensation

Comparing the average crew share between groundfish and non-groundfish fisheries can provide a perspective on how earnings within the groundfish fishery have changed compared to other sectors of the larger commercial fishery. For groundfish vessels less than 50 feet or above 75 feet, average crew share per person, per day increased in the first year of the catch share program before decreasing in 2011. In 2012, the average crew share per person, per day increased for vessels under 75 feet compared to 2011 averages. In 2013, average compensation was at the lowest level seen in the data across all vessel size categories, especially for vessels less than 30 feet ($51 per person, per day). If annual catch limits (ACLs) provide any indication of gross revenues and crew compensation, it is likely that earnings for the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program continued to be low in 2014 because that year’s ACLs were not appreciably higher than 2013 ACLs (Northeast Groundfish Fishery Annual Catch Limits). For the non-groundfish fishery, average crew compensation per person, per day has generally increased from 2009 levels across all vessel size categories, with a spike in earnings in 2011 for vessels 75 feet and above. These data, in combination with other data related to shifts in fish species targeted by fishermen (Fishery Diversification), suggest that fishermen are finding more financial opportunity in fisheries outside of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program.

Total Crew Compensation

Total groundfish crew compensation increased by 18.2 percent from 2009 to 2010 and an additional 10.2 percent from 2010 to 2011 before it decreased for the next two years, until 2013 levels were similar to 2009 levels. The proportion of total compensation across the vessel size categories has stayed relatively consistent, with most compensation going to crew on vessels 50 feet and above. The proportion of total compensation for vessels less than 30 feet has been very small across all years in the dataset. Massachusetts crew received the highest proportion of total crew compensation, with a total near $50 million in 2011 before falling to $37.6 million in 2013.

Data Gaps and Limitations

Baseline data are not available prior to 2007 for crew positions and crew trips, and prior to 2009 for crew shares. This provides a very short time period for comparison of years before and during the catch share program, which began in 2010. Because ports are aggregated by state in the data provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service, some trends at the individual port level for much of New England are obfuscated.

Information Sources

Kitts, A., et al. 2011. 2010 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2010-April 2011), 2nd Edition. NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 11-19. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1119/

Murphy, T., et al. 2012. 2011 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2011-April 2012). NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 12-30. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1230/

Murphy, T., et al. 2013. 2012 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2012-April 2013). NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 14-01. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1401/

Murphy, T., et al. 2014. 2013 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2013-April 2014). National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 15-02. Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Available online: www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1502/

Updated: August 2015

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