Crew Employment and Compensation


Ecological | Economic | Social | Governance

Have economic and social effects on local communities changed?

Indicator: Crew Employment and Compensation

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

Port groups represent combinations of individual communities based on geographic proximity.


In 2000-2001, employment in the limited entry trawl fishery was higher in the north, and earnings were relatively consistent across all ports. Other types of groundfish fishery employment was more prevalent in the south. No data are available yet for the period after the Shorebased IFQ Program.

Baseline Years: Prior to Catch Share Program

A very limited amount of data is available to be analyzed for this indicator. At the port group level, data are available only for 2000-2001, which is earlier than our standard baseline period that extends from 2002 to 2010. The 2000-2001 data suggest that employment in the limited entry trawl fishery was concentrated in the Oregon port groups of Astoria/Tillamook (943 fishermen), Newport (861 fishermen), and Coos Bay (312 fishermen). In general, the further south the port, the less engaged the port group was in the limited entry trawl fishery, with employment in southern California at relatively low levels. Port groups in Washington also did not have high numbers of employed fishermen in the groundfish limited entry trawl fleet. Earnings for limited entry trawl fishermen in 2000-2001 were relatively constant across all communities, with a clear direct relationship between total employment and earnings.

Other, non-trawl groundfish fishery employment was much more widely distributed geographically in 2000-2001. While the port group with the largest employment was the northern Washington coast (153 fishermen), the rest of the port groups generally employed between 10 and 100 people. Those communities in southern California with very little employment in the limited entry trawl fishery (e.g., San Diego, Los Angeles) had more employment in other groundfish fisheries. A clear relationship between employment and earnings can be seen by port group. Based on the trend line, earnings in Monterey and Los Angeles were slightly higher than the trend seen across all other groundfish fisheries, while the earnings in Astoria were lower.

Catch Share Program

No data are currently available for employment and earnings under the Shorebased IFQ Program. However, the NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center is currently collecting data through the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Social Study. Preliminary results show that participation in the NMFS survey effort has been highest in Oregon, southern Washington, northern California, and in the San Francisco Bay area. Approximately one-third of fishermen surveyed were between 51 and 60 years of age, and approximately half of the fishermen surveyed had worked in commercial fishing between 20 and 40 years. More than 60 percent of those surveyed said that their compensation was considered “good” or “excellent”, while more than 80 percent of fishermen surveyed said that their job satisfaction was considered “good” or “excellent”.

Data Gaps and Limitations

In contrast to the East Coast, where data are available, no data on West Coast groundfish fishery employment, by port or port group, are available that cover a period of multiple years. The data analyzed here are from 2000-2001 and were cited as recently as 2010 in an environmental impact statement by the PFMC and NMFS. Data currently being collected by NMFS likely will not be comparable to the 2000-2001 data. Therefore, the data presented here should be considered a “snapshot” of the fishery more than a decade ago, prior the beginning of our baseline period. Other indicators measured for this study show decreases since 2001 in gross revenues and active vessels in the fishery; it is likely that the number of fishermen has decreased in both groundfish and non-groundfish fisheries. It is unclear whether the overall compensation to fishermen has increased or decreased over this time.

Information Sources

Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service. 2010. Rationalization of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Limited Entry Trawl Fishery, Final Environmental Impact Statement. Available online:

Northwest Fisheries Science Center. 2013. Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Fishery Social Study, Baseline Study Preliminary Results. Available online:

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Crew Employment and Compensation (pdf) – February 2015 (minor editorial revisions)

Archive of previous versions:

Crew Employment and Compensation (pdf) – September 2013 (initial release)

Updated: February 2, 2015