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Have economic and social effects on local communities changed?

Indicator: Vessel Activity by State and Port Group

Key Findings

From 2007 through 2009, prior to the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, the number of active vessels decreased across all states and for each individual state. This trend continued following implementation of the Sector Program. Likewise, individual home ports varied in their changes from year to year, but all have had long-term declines in the number of active vessels since 2007. We defined an active vessel as a vessel with revenue from landing any groundfish species within the fishing year.

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Metrics

This indicator shows changes in vessel activity, which can affect the economic and social life of communities.

Analysis

Baseline: Before Catch Share Program

For all states combined, the total number of active vessels decreased from 658 in 2007 to 568 in 2009. Each individual state had a decline. Massachusetts had the largest change, with a 9 percent decrease in the number of active vessels between 2007 and 2009.  The sharpest declines occurred in the home ports of New Bedford, Boston, and those categorized in the dataset as All Other Massachusetts Communities (which did not include Gloucester and Chatham). In Gloucester, the number of active vessels decreased from 95 in 2007 to 88 in 2008, but the number rebounded to 97 in 2009.

During Catch Share Program 

The overall trend of declining numbers of active vessels across home port states and communities continued following implementation of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program. The states with the greatest reductions in active vessels from 2009 to 2013 were Massachusetts (44.5 percent) and Maine (64 percent). In most of the states, declines occurred consistently each year from 2010 through 2013. In 2012, however, Maine and New York experienced slight increases before declining again in 2013. Most of the home ports or home port groups in the dataset had declining numbers of active vessels after implementation of the Sector Program and continuing through 2013. Some home ports had relatively consistent numbers of active vessels. Others such as New Bedford (Massachusetts) experienced an immediate drop in the number of vessels in 2010 but rebounded somewhat in 2011 and 2012 before declining again in 2013, until they were below their 2009 numbers.

Recent research has also suggested that fleet diversity has declined from 1996 to 2012, based on the number of vessels for each year categorized by primary gear type, vessel size, and port of landing (Thunberg and Correia 2014). Over the years, more rare combinations of gear/size/port have decreased over time and a core set of 40 different gear/size/port vessel type combinations are present every year 1996-2012, accounting for 85 percent of all active groundfish vessels and over 90 percent of total groundfish landings in all years.

Data Gaps and Limitations

As is the case for some other indicators, baseline data for home ports are not available before 2007, providing a short baseline period against which to compare data from years under the catch share program.

Data for the number of vessels are limited and provide information for only those ports most heavily involved in the multispecies groundfish fishery. Ports in smaller states and those with less involvement in the fishery are aggregated in the dataset, masking any potential trends at the individual port level for much of New England.

In previous versions of this indicator, we reported on active vessels by port of landing. However, those data were not updated for 2011 through 2013 and were found to not provide adequate information to assess the effects of the catch share program.

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. National Marine Fisheries Service, 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). National Marine Fisheries Service, 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). National Marine Fisheries Service, 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/

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. Landings Ports for Landed Weight over 25lbs, by Fishing Year. Available online: http://namanet.org/files/documents/Landing_Ports_Final_25lbs.pdf.

Thunberg, Eric and Steven Correia. 2014. From Fishing Capacity to Diversity: Changing Fishery Management Priorities in the New England Groundfish Fishery. IIFET 2014 Australia Conference Proceedings.

Updated August 2015

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