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Have economic and social effects on local communities changed?

Indicators: Vessel Activity by State and Port Group

Key Findings

  • The number of vessels landing at least some groundfish during a given year varied annually in most states through about 2001, and then generally declined from 2002 through 2009 as catch and revenue fell due to stringent fishing restrictions.
  • The decline in the number of active groundfish vessels continued across home port states and communities following implementation of the catch share program due to decreases in the annual catch limits of key allocated species and other factors.

Interactive Chart Story

Metrics

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

In Their Own Words

Although some of the quantitative data analyzed for this indicator exhibited clear trends, it was challenging to discuss the relationships between observed data trends and implementation of the respective catch share programs, especially in the Northeast. The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project team believed that those stakeholders most involved in the fishery, either as active participants or as representatives of an involved coalition of participants (e.g., sector managers in the Northeast), would be able to provide insight and help to explain trends seen in the existing quantitative data. The following quotes were selected to illustrate some of those perspectives and highlight trends such as effects on small vessels, the effect of avoiding “choke stocks,” fleet diversification, and product quality. The individual quotes do not represent findings or conclusions for this indicator, nor do they represent a consensus across any category of participants.

“We also recognize from experiences in other fisheries that if there aren’t some sort of controls in place when you move to these quota based systems you can have a lot of consolidation. Smaller, more remote fishing communities often take the brunt of that. Some fisheries probably need some degree of consolidation. I think we all know that the consolidation with the groundfish was happening before any of this sector management started.”
~ NGO

Analysis

Baseline: Before Catch Share Program

Throughout the baseline period (2002-2009), the fleet of vessels landing groundfish was dominated by boats home-ported in Massachusetts (51 percent) and Maine (11 percent). The number of vessels landing at least some groundfish during a given year varied annually in most states through about 2001, and then generally declined from 2002 through 2009 as catch and revenue fell due to stringent fishing restrictions (Revenues and Landings by State and Port Group). States with relatively small numbers of vessels landing groundfish (such as Connecticut and New Jersey) experienced more variability, while states with more vessels (including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York) experienced overall declines in number of active vessels throughout the baseline period. Both Massachusetts and Maine experienced more than a 40 percent drop in vessels landing groundfish between 2002 and 2009.

During Catch Share Program

During the first five years of the the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, vessels with limited access multispecies permits from home port states throughout New England participated in the program; however, these vessels were concentrated largely in Massachusetts, including the ports of Gloucester, Boston, and New Bedford, and in Maine and New Hampshire. In states with relatively small numbers of vessels landing groundfish, such as Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, more vessels chose to fish in the common pool system than in the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program (Percent of Vessels in Sector Program/Common Pool by State ).

As average annual groundfish landings and revenue continued to fall following implementation of the catch share program due to cuts in annual catch limits and other factors (Revenues and Landings by State and Port Group), the overall trend of declining numbers of vessels landing groundfish across home port states and communities also continued. The state with the greatest reduction in vessels landing groundfish from 2010 through 2014 was New Hampshire (-44 percent). In both Massachusetts and New York the number of active groundfish vessels fell by about one-third. In most Northeastern states, declines occurred consistently each year, but in Connecticut and New Jersey the size of the groundfish fleet was more variable.

Information Sources

Kitts, A. et al. 2011. 2010 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2010-April 2011). NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 11-19. Woods Hole, MA. 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, MA.Available online: www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1230/

Murphy, T. et al. 2014. 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, MA.Available online: www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/crd/crd1502/

Murphy, T. et al. 2015. 2013 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery, (May 2013-April 2014). National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 15-02. Woods Hole, MA.

Updated: April 2018

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