Fishing Support Service Employment


Ecological | Economic | Social | Governance

Have economic and social effects on local communities changed?

Indicator: Fishing Support Service Employment

This indicator measures changes in employment in fishing support services, as a component of local community effects of the catch share program.


No data are available for years during the Shorebased IFQ Program, so it is unknown at this time what the effects on fishing support service businesses may be along the West Coast. Data from NOAA on the ocean economy provide a rough indication of how employment within key sectors changed from 2005 to 2010. The data are not detailed enough to show specifically how the shift to catch shares may be affecting particular businesses.

Baseline Years: Prior to Catch Share Program

Baseline information is available from 2005 to 2010. During that time, the employment associated with the ocean economy has been the highest in California. For the coast as a whole, employment increased from 2005 to 2008, before declining (likely as a result of the nationwide recession) in 2009 and into 2010. Marine construction employment was also highest in California, but it has declined substantially between 2005 and 2010. Marine construction employment grew in Washington between 2005 and 2007 before declining from 2008 through 2010. Shipbuilding and boatbuilding employment was highest in Washington, but all states experienced a drop in employment in that sector between 2008 and 2010.

At the county level, Los Angeles and San Diego counties have the highest employment within the ocean economy. Within the marine construction sector, both counties have experienced substantial declines in employment over the baseline years available, while those counties elsewhere along the coast have maintained relatively constant levels of employment from 2005 to 2010. These trends are generally similar for both wage employees and self-employed workers. Kitsap, San Diego, and King counties have the highest numbers of shipbuilding and boatbuilding employees. While total employment has remained relatively constant for many counties, Kitsap and San Diego counties had increases from 2005 to 2010, while Kings county had a decline. For many sectors, the nationwide recession that occurred from December 2007 to June 2009 adversely affected the number of employees, as seen in decreased employment totals in 2009 and 2010 for many counties across the economic sectors.

Catch Share Program

No data are currently available for years during the Shorebased IFQ Program, so it is unknown at this time what the effects on support service businesses may be along the West Coast.

Data Gaps and Limitations

The dataset used here is based on economic census data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and NOAA Coastal Services Center. The data are limited in that they do not extend back to 2002, which is the first year of our baseline period. However, the data are updated by NOAA on a continuing basis and provide a good indication of the ocean-related employment in coastal states and counties. The economic data are not fine-grained enough to identify support service businesses and employees directly associated with the groundfish fishery, and it is likely that businesses that provide services to the groundfish fleet also provide services to other fleets. It is assumed here that the sectors most associated with the groundfish fishery are marine construction and shipbuilding and boatbuilding.

Some highly localized, qualitative datasets are available on effects of the catch share program on fishing support service industries. However, different ports and port groups have experienced different effects from the catch share program and past fishery management efforts, so conclusions based on localized datasets cannot be applied to the fishery as a whole.

NOAA’s Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Social Study is currently collecting data on owners/employees of fishing support service businesses, including years of experience, employment mix, job satisfaction, job stability, standard of living, and the network through which they are connected to the fishery, among other metrics. However, that survey is not intended as a census of fishermen, vessel owners, or fishing support service employees. As a result, we expect to continue using the data types presented above to measure employment and economic output associated with fishery support service businesses.

Information Sources

NOAA. 2013. Digital Coast, Economics: National Ocean Watch. ENOW and ENOW for Self-employed Workers. Available online:

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Fishing Support Service Employment (pdf) – February 2015 (minor editorial revisions)

Archive of previous versions:

Fishing Support Service Employment (pdf) – September 2013 (initial release)

Updated: February 2, 2015