Has the financial viability of the fishery changed?

Landings: The average annual landings of groundfish during the first four years of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program were about 80 percent of the 2001–2009 average. Under the sector program, fishermen continued to harvest only a fraction of the annual allowable catches of many healthy stocks. For example, some $436 million worth of Georges Bank haddock that NMFS determined could be sustainably harvested during the 2010-2013 period was foregone.

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.

Has the number of active vessels in the fishery changed?

The number of vessels participating in the groundfish fleet declined during the baseline period, and this trend continued after the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program was implemented. Since 2010, the number of vessels harvesting groundfish has continued to contract.

Have opportunities or barriers to entering the fishery changed?

Prior to implementation of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, access to the groundfish fishery tightened in 1994 with implementation of a limited access program, and some fishermen left the fishery. Similarly, when the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program began in 2010, some additional fishermen may have chosen to leave the fishery. In the initial allocation of the catch share program, a majority of shares for several allocated stocks were concentrated among the top 25 quota holders. Since 2011, the number and volume of between-sector transfers of Annual Catch Entitlement (ACE) have fluctuated but continue to exceed the 2010 values.

Are fishing vessels participating in a different mix of fisheries?

Participation in a mix of fisheries is common practice for fishermen. Since the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program began, non-groundfish have accounted for an increasingly larger proportion of the total landings and revenues of limited access groundfish vessels. By 2013, non-groundfish accounted for 83 percent of the landings of limited access groundfish vessels, as compared to an average of 74 percent during the three years preceding the implementation of the catch share program.

Has the cost of fishery management to the private sector changed?

Prior to the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program, the primary management cost to the industry was the implementation of measures for fishery monitoring. This included reporting requirements and vessel monitoring systems. To date, the costs of catch monitoring under the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program have been primarily funded by NMFS, as was the case prior to program implementation. Limited access groundfish vessels that join a sector must cover the costs associated with the administration and management of the sector, which may include the cost of ensuring their sector has sufficient allocation for all stocks in the areas they fish.

Updated: October 2015