Are fishing vessels participating in a different mix of fisheries?

Indicators: Fishery Diversification

Key Findings

  • Participation in a mix of fisheries is common practice for fishermen.
  • In Oregon’s pink shrimp and Dungeness crab fisheries, the two non-groundfish fisheries for which data are available, the proportional level of effort and landings attributable to groundfish trawl fishermen did not increase in 2011. Consequently, the “spillover effect” on those fisheries during the first year of the Shorebased IFQ Program was minimal.
  • However, the Shorebased IFQ Program provision that allows limited entry trawl permit holders to switch from trawl to fixed gears may have led to overcrowding of some fishing grounds where fixed gear is used in non-catch share program groundfish fisheries.

Interactive Chart Story

Metrics

This indicator measures the degree to which catch share fishery vessels also participate in other fisheries.

Analysis

Baseline: Before Catch Share Program

West Coast groundfish trawl fishermen typically participate in a number of other fisheries, depending on the season, fishery conditions, and market opportunities. Over recent years, two of the most important alternative fisheries for the non-whiting groundfish fleet have been the Dungeness crab and pink shrimp fisheries. Non-whiting groundfish trawl vessels may also fish for other species during the year, such as salmon, halibut, and tuna, but these are typically caught in much lower volumes. Most vessels in the shorebased Pacific whiting fleet also participate in the at-sea Pacific whiting fishery or fisheries in Alaska, such as the pollock fishery.

Data on participation by non-whiting groundfish fishermen in the Dungeness crab and pink shrimp fisheries are currently available only for the Oregon fisheries. The West Coast pink shrimp fishery is centered in the waters off Oregon, which accounts for two-thirds to three-fourths of annual landings in the fishery. Oregon’s coastal waters are also an important source of Dungeness crab, accounting for about one-third of the West Coast annual harvest in recent years. From 2006 through 2008, participation (measured by number of vessels), landings, and revenues in the pink shrimp fishery by vessels with limited entry trawl groundfish permits steadily increased, followed by a drop and subsequent climb. A different pattern of participation was seen in the Dungeness crab fishery, where the number of vessels remained steady for several years despite decreases in landings and revenue. Peak seasons differ between these fisheries, providing opportunity to participate in both. For most areas of the West Coast, the Dungeness crab season starts in December and lasts into summer. The majority of crab is captured in the first two months of the season, however, due to peak holiday demand. Trawling for pink shrimp generally begins in the spring and may continue through the summer.

While groundfish trawl fishermen have historically engaged in a seasonal round of fishing activities, conditions in many local fisheries tend to be inconsistent. For example, Dungeness crab, pink shrimp, and salmon resources are highly cyclical. Pink shrimp landings have been affected by stock abundance, which varies substantially from year to year due largely to environmental factors that cause natural fluctuations in recruitment. Other factors that may explain the low landings in 2006 include a weak market attributed to competition from other warm-water and cold-water shrimp fisheries, competition from aquaculture production of warm-water species worldwide, increased fuel prices, and limited availability of shrimp processors on the West Coast. Participation in non-groundfish fisheries prior to the Shorebased IFQ program may also have been constrained by bimonthly cumulative trip limits in the non-whiting groundfish fishery (Management Framework). The trip limits required the non-whiting groundfish trawlers to spread their groundfish effort out into six two-month periods over the year. By distributing groundfish fishing effort over the year, the trip limits may have restricted the amount of time fishermen could spend in non-groundfish fisheries.

During Catch Share Program (2011–2017)

One reason for reduced participation in the non-whiting groundfish fishery since the start of the Shorebased IFQ Program is that some fishermen participated in non-groundfish fisheries more consistently than they did prior to the catch share program (Financial Viability of the Fishery: Landings). Security of allocations under the catch share program allowed fishermen to engage in other fisheries during the year without forgoing any of their groundfish landings. Moreover, the market for pink shrimp and, to some extent, Dungeness crab has been strong in recent years. While the average and total number of days at sea non-whiting groundfish vessels spent in the groundfish fishery decreased from 2009 to 2015 (Financial Viability of the Fishery: Landings), the average and total number of days at sea they spent in non-IFQ fisheries increased (Average/Total Days at Sea in Non-IFQ Fisheries ). This shift in fishing effort contributed to a decrease in the proportion of total gross revenue that the average non-whiting groundfish vessel with a limited entry trawl permit generated from the groundfish fishery (Revenue from non-IFQ Fisheries ).

Data to assess if the additional fishing flexibility created by the catch share program led to a significant spillover effect on the pink shrimp and Dungeness crab fisheries are only available for 2011. In the first year of the program, total landings for pink shrimp in Oregon totaled more than 48 million pounds, which was a 53 percent increase from 2010. Moreover, ex-vessel prices for pink shrimp were high in 2011 due to decreased supplies in Canada for a similar species and strong demand in Europe, Japan, and China. However, the number of vessels holding limited entry trawl groundfish permits that participated in Oregon’s pink shrimp fishery decreased from 29 in 2010 to 24 in 2011. Furthermore, although 2011 was an exceptional shrimp year, groundfish trawler participants landed the lowest proportion of total shrimp volume since 2007. These data suggest that while groundfish trawl vessels benefited from high shrimp prices and the additional fishing flexibility created by the catch share program, the spillover effect of the Shorebased IFQ Program on Oregon’s pink shrimp fishery in 2011 was minimal.

Similarly, no spillover effect was observed in Oregon’s Dungeness crab fishery during the first year of the catch share program. The 2010–2011 crab season (December through May) was lucrative because it was a high-volume, high-price season. This pattern was partially driven by growing demand in Asia for live product. However, the number of groundfish trawl participants and their proportion of the total landings were similar to the 2009–2010 season. But in the 2011–2012 season, there was a decline in the proportion of Oregon crab landings harvested by groundfish trawlers.

The Shorebased IFQ Program provision that allows limited entry trawl permit holders to switch from trawl to fixed gears (Shorebased IFQ Program) created the potential for a spillover effect on non-catch share program groundfish fisheries. This gear switching could affect the existing fixed-gear fleet if it leads to overcrowding of fishing grounds where fixed gear is customarily used. An example of this congestion has been reported in the sablefish fixed gear fishery between Point Lopez and Point Conception. Fishermen that have traditionally participated in this fishery with longline gear complain about the number of vessels with limited entry trawl groundfish permits coming from ports in Oregon and Washington to harvest IFQ sablefish in the area with pot gear. During the 2011-2015 period, the sablefish fishing ground at around 35° N. latitude between Point Lopez and Point Conception was among the most important grounds for both non-IFQ longline vessels and IFQ pot vessels (Sablefish Landings by Latitude ). The setting of large numbers of pots on the fishing grounds makes it difficult for longline vessels to also use those grounds because of the risk of gear entanglement. Moreover, unlike the local longline vessels, the vessels eligible to participate in the catch share program are not subject to trip limits. On the other hand, these negative effects may be offset to some extent by the ability of fixed-gear fishermen to increase their fishing opportunities by leasing limited entry trawl groundfish permits and acquiring quota pounds (QP) for sablefish (Financial Viability of the Fishery: Landings).

Data Gaps and Limitations

Data on the participation of limited entry trawl vessels in non-groundfish fisheries in Washington and California are currently unavailable. In addition, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has indicated that because of budget constraints it will not analyze the participation of limited entry trawl vessels in the Oregon 2012 pink shrimp fishery and 2012–2013 Dungeness crab fishery. Data on the fishery diversification of vessels that relinquished their limited entry trawl permits after implementation of the Shorebased IFQ Program are unavailable.

Information Sources

California Department of Fish and Game. 2008. Status of the Fisheries Report: An Update through 2006. Sacramento, CA.

Gilden, J. (editor). 1999. Oregon’s Changing Coastal Fishing Communities. Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University. Corvallis, OR.

Pacific Fishery Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service. 2010. Rationalization of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Limited Entry Trawl Fishery; Final Environmental Impact Statement Including Regulatory Impact Review and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. Portland, OR.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2012. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Report on the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program off Oregon. Prepared for Pacific Fishery Management Council. Portland, OR.

National Marine Fisheries Service. 2017a. West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program Five-year Review – Draft. Pacific Fishery Management Council. Portland, OR.

National Marine Fisheries Service. 2017a. FISHeries Economics Explorer (FISHEyE). Available online: https://dataexplorer.northwestscience.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheye/.

Somers, K, Y. Lee, J. Jannot, C. Whitmire, V. Tuttle, and J. McVeigh. 2017. Fishing Effort in the 2002-20 U.S. Pacific Coast Groundfish Fisheries. National Marine Fisheries Service Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Seattle, WA.

Radtke, H. and S. Davis. 2000. Description of the U.S. West Coast Commercial Fishing Fleet and Seafood Processors. Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Portland, OR.

Updated: May 2018

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