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Number of Active Vessels

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator measures the number of fishing boats that actively participate in the catch share fishery. Vessels eligible for the catch share fishery but that do not participate actively will not be counted under this indicator. “Actively” will be defined clearly; for example, it may mean earning a specified amount of revenue from the catch share fishery per year or landing a specified amount of catch share fish stocks in a given year. In addition to changes in the total number of vessels in the fishery, this indicator will measure how the changes are distributed across different sizes of vessels, ports of landing, and home ports.

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

Why is this indicator important?

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. For example, some fishermen may decide that their catch share allocation is insufficient to fish economically. This indicator will show the change in the size of the fleet under the catch share program. 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.

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 (Financial Viability of Active Vessels). 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 (Crew Employment and Compensation); the quantity of raw fish available to processors and buyers (Seafood Dealers/Processors; Processing Employment); and the demand for shoreside vessel support services (Fishery Support Service Employment).

How is this indicator measured?

Metrics for this indicator will include the number of active vessels with limited entry groundfish trawl permits by fleet and fleet segment, including vessel length group, port of landing and home port, and the number of vessel affiliations (groups of vessels connected by a common owner) with active vessels.

What are the strengths and limitations of this indicator?

As noted, the number of active vessels has significant economic and social consequences. However, 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. 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.