Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) released the Interim Report for Fishing Year 2010 on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery (May 2010-January 2011), which examines gross revenues, fishing effort, average vessel performance, distribution of revenues, and employment for the first nine months of the 2007 through 2010 fishing years. As expected under the new sector management system, which went into effect last May, the report shows an increase in gross revenues in 2010 compared to previous years. However, since the report does not take into account expenses such as vessel operating costs or the costs associated with joining a sector, the effect of sectors on net revenues in the fishery still remains to be seen.
Still, NOAA’s statement on the release of the report expressed optimism. “The report provides welcome news about Northeast groundfish revenues,” said Eric Schwaab, NOAA assistant administrator for fisheries. “For example, the higher revenues occurred without exceeding this year’s groundfish catch quotas. And while many fishermen are doing better, we also know that some fishermen and businesses are not doing as well.”
The report noted that many trends observed in 2010 were continuations of trends that had been apparent since 2007 or even earlier, including declining landings, a declining number of active vessels, and increasing concentration of groundfish revenue among the top-earning vessels. Some other trends observed this year are new, and these trends are of a more positive nature, including increases in gross revenues, increases in prices of both groundfish and non-groundfish species, and increased economic performance in terms of revenue per unit effort.
As mentioned above, data from the final three months of the fishing year and data on the costs associated with the new system have yet to be incorporated into NEFSC’s analysis, so a final assessment of the first year of sectors is not currently possible. The interim report will be updated in August 2011 to take into account this additional information.
To read more about the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery and the sector system, please visit Talking Fish, a new blog created by CLF and other like-minded organizations and individuals to foster informed and productive discussion about New England’s fisheries and coastal communities.