Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Catch Share Management in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery (Regional)

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Project Type: 
Research
Project Number: 
RR/SSS-5
Inception Date: 
2012
Completion Date: 
2014

Participants:

Joshua Wiersma Northeast Fishery Sector XI, XII Associate Investigator
Christopher Glass Northeast Consortium Principal Investigator
Rachel Gallant Feeney Northeast Consortium Co-Principal Investigator
Julia Olson Northeast Fisheries Science Center Associate Investigator
Madeleine Hall-Arber MIT Sea Grant Associate Investigator
Natalie Waltner Technician
Christopher Kellogg New England Fisheries Management Council Associate Investigator
Ken La Valley UNH - Cooperative Extension Associate Investigator
Abstract: 
To evaluate whether the multispecies (groundfish) catch share fishery system (i.e. sectors) in the Northeast U.S. is achieving theorized benefits, there must be evaluations of biological, social and economic impacts. This research is testing theories generated about catch shares, examining their validity and limits relative to sector management in New England commercial multispecies fisheries. The New Hampshire commercial fishery is the focus of this case study. The primary research question is: Has the advent of commercial multispecies sectors in New England impacted fishing practices, social capital and bycatch in the New Hampshire fishery? Northeast Fishery Sectors XI and XII, comprised of multispecies fishermen in New Hampshire, are the particular focus of research, but broader applications of conclusions are considered. Quantitative and qualitative information is being gathered primarily by one-on-one interviews with individuals from New Hampshire, including current New Hampshire sector fishing permit owners, non-sector fishermen, former fishermen, and fish dealers. It is hypothesized that fishing under the control rules governing sectors has resulted in reduced bycatch in the fishery; more flexibility for fishermen to decide where, when, and how to fish; and greater collaboration among fishermen in the conduct of business and bycatch reduction. The applicability of the N.H.-based results to the broader region will be determined, as well as causes of variation.
Objectives: 
The research objectives are to:
 
1. Measure quantitative and qualitative changes that have occurred relative to the Northeast multispecies sector program that relate to fishing practices, social capital and bycatch

2. Focus on the New Hampshire fishing industry, but determine the applicability of the results to the Northeast multispecies generally

3. Involve a multi-stakeholder team to collect data, conduct the analysis, and then disseminate the results to end users, particularly in the management and fishing arenas

Methodology: 
Quantitative data from the first three years of New Hampshire multispecies fishing sector operations will be evaluated. Additional quantitative and qualitative data will be gathered by two sets of interviews with 50 individuals from New Hampshire, including all current New Hampshire sector fishing permit owners, former and nonsector fishermen, dealers, and fishermen’s wives. Results will be reported such that individuals cannot be identified. R. Feeney will coordinate the project, and other investigators will serve as project advisors and assist in data collection and stakeholder community liaisons.
Rationale: 
To evaluate whether the multispecies catch share fishery in the Northeast U.S. is achieving the hypothetical benefits of sustainable harvest and viable fishing industries, there must be regulatory program evaluations of social and economic impacts. The proposed project will conduct such an evaluation and focus on the New Hampshire fishing industry. Thus, the changes that have occurred within this particular community as a result of the implementation of the catch share program will be determined and a baseline for future assessments will be established. Success will be assessed, in part, as the use of data and conclusions by regulators, the fishing industry, and other fisheries stakeholders.
Accomplishments: 

2014

Research indicates impact of sector fisheries management on fisheries practices varies based on vessel size and operation
With funding provided by a Northeast Sea Grant Consortium regional research grant, scientists conducted one-on-one interviews with various individuals involved in the N.H. commercial fishing industry to determine the social and economic impact of the fisheries management shift from days-at-sea to catch share sector management. The results of this research, compiled in 2014, indicate that catch share sector management has changed fishing practices in N.H. in varying ways, related in part to the size of the fishing vessels and operations. Interviewees with larger vessels believed that sectors are more efficient, allowing for more concentrated effort and being able to harvest up to their limits with fewer trips, while smaller-scale operators did not believe that one program was an improvement over another. Results from this research help fisheries managers improve their understanding of the changes taking place in commercial fishing practices due in part to the new management program.

Research indicates fisheries catch share program decreased employment and fishing effort, increased operator efficiency
Fisheries managers recently introduced the catch share sector program for Northern New England as a way to reduce bycatch associated with groundfishing. Scientists funded by a Northeast Sea Grant Consortium regional research grant conducted interviews with individuals involved in the N.H. commercial fishing industry to determine the social and economic impacts of catch shares in comparison to the older days-at-sea program. The results of their research, compiled in 2014, indicate that employment and fishing effort have decreased regionally in the fishery, although there is evidence that those who have remained in the fishery are more efficient operators. One major theme that emerged in the interviews is that there is less well-being among fishermen today than before the introduction of catch shares. Results from this research provide fisheries managers with a more detailed understanding of community impacts from catch shares in N.H., thus offering insight about possible future modifications of the program to achieve its goals.

Regional research indicates that catch share management has a range of impacts on social capital in N.H.’s fishing industry
The fishing industry in Northern New England has recently experienced a shift in management policy to catch shares, also known as sector management. It was previously unclear how this shift in management has impacted N.H.’s social capital, the fishing industry’s social connections and their willingness to cooperate. With funding provided by a Northeast Sea Grant Consortium regional research grant, scientists conducted interviews with individuals involved in the N.H. commercial fishing industry. Results from this research, compiled in 2014, indicate that sectors have a range of impacts on social capital. Sector interviewees are not more inclined to voluntarily join trade organizations than others. However, sector interviewees lend equipment and share information on fishing areas and catch more than other interviewees who were not involved in sectors. There is little evidence that the interviewees are using social capital to coordinate fishing areas to reduce gear conflicts or bycatch. Results from this research have provided fisheries managers with a more detailed understanding about the impacts of the catch share program to improve the decision-making process.

Regional research indicates impacts on fishing area conflicts with advent of catch share sector management in N.H.
The recent advent of the catch share, or sector, management program for Northern New England commercial fisheries has in many cases led to changes in the location and timing of multispecies fishing. With funding provided by a Northeast Sea Grant Consortium regional research grant, scientists conducted interviews with individuals involved in the N.H. commercial fishing industry to determine the social and economic impact of the new program. Results from this research, compiled in 2014, indicated that interviewees have experienced either no change in area conflicts, or increases in conflicts as either new groundfish vessels move into their fishing area or stationary gear takes up more space due to declines in mobile gear. This research will help fisheries managers to improve their understanding of the impacts of the new management program for possible future modifications to achieve the program’s goals.

Research indicates changes in fishing trip length and gear loss due to adoption of sector management in New England
Scientists funded by a Northeast Sea Grant Consortium regional research grant conducted interviews with individuals associated with the N.H. commercial fishing industry to determine the impacts of the new catch share sector management program. Results compiled in 2014 indicate that although some vessels used to make two-day fishing trips, interviewees indicated that they are generally all taking one-day trips now. Most of the interviewees did not make any particular changes to their gear since 2009, though some have experienced an increase in gear loss. This research provides a more detailed understanding of the changes taking place in Northern New England fisheries and helps to establish a benchmark to track future changes to the groundfish fishery over time.

Regional research indicates no major changes in commercial fishing safety with advent of catch share sector management
Scientists funded by a Northeast Sea Grant Consortium regional research grant conducted interviews with individuals in the N.H. commercial fishing industry to determine the social and economic impact of the new catch share fisheries management program. Results compiled in 2014 indicated that the advent of the catch share sector management program has resulted in no major changes in safety because interviewees noted that they strive to be safe no matter what management program is in place. The removal of trip limits for sectors has brought flexibility and less pressure to fish in unsafe conditions, although common pool members must choose between fishing more often in winter months versus potentially forgoing catch. Results from this research will help inform fisheries managers about safety aspects of the catch share program for future improvements where necessary.

Publications

Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant

Thesis/Dissertation

  • Feeney, R.G. (2015). Catch share management in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery: implications for the commercial groundfish fishery in New Hampshire. Doctoral dissertation, University of New Hampshire.