Vessel Activity by State and Port Group


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Have economic and social effects on local communities changed?

Indicator: Vessel Activity by State and Port Group

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

Note: “Active” is defined as making at least one landing of groundfish during the year.

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


The total number of limited entry trawl vessels landing groundfish across California, Washington, and Oregon declined over the eight-year time period (2000-2007) for which data were available. A sharp decline occurred in California, while in Oregon and Washington the number fluctuated from year to year. At the community level, some Oregon ports maintained a high level of activity, but by 2007 most ports had fewer than 10 vessels landing groundfish. Data are not yet available for years under the Shorebased IFQ Program.

Baseline Years: Prior to Catch Share Program

Fishing vessel activity (as a count of vessels making at least one groundfish landing in the year) in the non-whiting groundfish trawl fishery fluctuated within Oregon and Washington between the years 2000 and 2007, with an overall downward trend in California. The sharp decline in California was due largely to the vessel and permit buyback program and management measures that limited access and restricted landings in order to reduce the harvest of depleted rockfish. For the coast as a whole, the number of active vessels showed a clear downward trend (also visible in the total Number of Active Vessels). Between 2000 and 2005, non-whiting trawl vessels with landings declined substantially and then remained relatively constant between 2005 and 2007.

Varied patterns emerged between states. Early in the time period, there was little change in the number of trawl vessels making landings in California, followed by a steep decline each year from 2002 (188 vessels) to 2007 (54 vessels), shifting the concentration of activity from California to Oregon. The number of vessels making landings in Oregon has dropped from 136 vessels in 2000 to 85 vessels in 2007; however, after the low of 77 vessels in 2005, more vessels made landings in both 2006 and 2007. The number of active vessels in Washington declined over the time period from a high of 46 in 2001 to a low of 12 in 2006, followed by a slight increase to 14 in 2007. Throughout the period, Washington consistently had fewer active vessels than California and Oregon.

At the port level, Astoria, Oregon, had the largest number of vessels landing groundfish, ranging between 54 and 29 between 2000 and 2007. Other communities with relatively large numbers of vessels making landings included Newport and Coos Bay in Oregon, and Eureka, California. In general, most communities had between 10 and 20 vessels in 2000 and experienced a decline for the next seven years. By 2007, 17 of the 21 communities had fewer than 10 active vessels.

Catch Share Program

No consistent community-level data are available for the number of vessels landing groundfish after implementation of the catch share program, although groundfish landings by community are reported in terms of pounds landed and gross revenue (Landings and Revenues by State and Port Group). In addition, reliable data for the vessel activity by vessel size category are currently unavailable for the baseline years and catch share program period.

Data Gaps and Limitations

A report published in 2009 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service, providing data from 2000-2007, was the most comprehensive information available at the community level. More recent data that we found through a literature search appeared inconsistent with previously established estimates and/or did not provide information by port, port group, or community. Because these data are based on number of vessels making landings by port group, there is a potential for double counting individual vessels within the fishery if a vessel made a non-whiting groundfish trawl landing in more than one port group. As such, this indicator suggests overall vessel activity and not the total number of individual vessels in the non-whiting groundfish trawl fishery. The project team is currently requesting data from the Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN) that will provide estimates of vessels for more recent years, including years during the catch share program.

Information Sources

Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service. 2009. Proposed Acceptable Biological Catch and Optimum Yield Specifications and Management Measures for the 2009-2010 Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery, Final Environmental Impact Statement. Available online:

Norman, K., et al. 2007. Community Profiles for West Coast and North Pacific Fisheries–Washington, Oregon, California, and Other U.S. States. National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Regional Office. Seattle, WA.

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Vessel Activity (pdf) – February 2015 (minor editorial revisions)

Archive of previous versions:

Vessel Activity (pdf) – September 2013 (initial release)

Updated: February 2, 2015