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Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management (REFM) Division

Economic Data Collection Programs

The Crab Rationalization Program proposed by the Council includes some novel and potentially controversial components. Therefore, in order to ensure that the effects of the program can be clearly discerned, the Council has developed a comprehensive and mandatory data collection program. The program will collect ownership, revenue, employment, and variable cost data, and any fixed cost data necessary to analyze variable costs from the harvesting and processing sectors of the Bering Sea-Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab fishery. The Council appointed a Data Committee to develop options for the data collection program. The Council made its final recommendations for the data program relying on input from the Data Committee, Scientific and Statistical Committee, Advisory Panel, industry, public, and related analyses. The Council, agency, and industry determined that the data collection program is a critical component of the Crab Rationalization Program and that the data program should be mandatory. In an effort to ensure that NMFS will have the authority to implement the data collection program, Center economists prepared a brief discussion paper, “Discussion Points for Developing the Enabling Legislation for the Mandatory Data Collection Component of the BSAI Crab Rationalization Program.” The paper addresses three issues: 1) authority to implement the mandatory data collection program; 2) additional protection for confidential economic data; and 3) authority to access data collected by other Federal agencies.

Fishing Industry Productivity and Capacity

"Directions for Productivity Measurement in Fisheries" by Ron Felthoven and C.J. Morrison Paul reviews the currently sparse literature on productivity in fisheries and suggests ways to better account for many of the relevant issues unique to the industry. The authors discuss the need to incorporate bycatch levels to better account for environmental and stock fluctuations and to relax some of the restrictive economic assumptions that have been imposed in the research to date. A methodological framework that may be used to incorporate these factors is proposed. The paper will be published in Marine Policy later this year.

In the past 2 years, NMFS has assembled both an internal task force and an external expert panel to suggest methods for computing fishing capacity in U.S. fisheries. The primary difficulty in choosing a suggested methodology has been the lack of economic data required for many of the capacity models developed in the economic literature. "Methods for Estimating Fishing Capacity with Routinely Collected Data: A Comparison" by Ron Felthoven describes two of the suggested frontier methods for measuring capacity: data envelopment analysis (DEA) and the stochastic production frontier (SPF). The paper also discusses how to implement these models and various notions of "capacity" that can be computed, depending on the assumptions made regarding potential increases in effort. The paper is scheduled to be published in the Review of International Fisheries Law and Policy.

Ron Felthoven presented "A Multi-output Transformation Function Approach for Estimating Fishing Capacity" at the 50th Anniversary Workshop at the Centre for Fisheries Economics in Bergen, Norway. The paper offers an econometric approach for generating primal measures of capacity output and capacity utilization in fisheries as an alternative to the frontier-based production models used in the recent literature. A limitation of many studies utilizing frontier approaches for fisheries is that inappropriate conclusions may be drawn regarding potential output increases if the calculated inefficiencies are not likely to be eliminated. The paper also shows how to accommodate various changes in output composition at capacity, avoiding the fixed proportions assumptions common in frontier models.

Regional Economics in the North Pacific

Dr. Chang Seung is developing a research project to address the use of resident and nonresident labor in seafood processing. The results of his project will be used to improve regional economic models used in analyses of North Pacific fisheries. Dr. Seung has undertaken a comprehensive review and critique of these models. In May he attended the Regional Economic Models, Inc. seminar in Seattle to evaluate models frequently used in Alaskan fisheries. He recently lectured at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on regional economic modeling for fisheries in Alaska.

Data Requests

Data were summarized and provided to assist the Council and NMFS in addressing the following issues: 1) Improved Retention/ Improved Utilization for the BSAI groundfish fishery; 2) Steller sea lions; 3) bycatch; and 4) essential fish habitat.

Spatial Fisheries Economic Modeling Workshop

Through a cooperative agreement with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Center funded the Spatial Fisheries Economic Modeling Workshop: Application to the Bering Sea Pollock Catcher Boat Fishery. The workshop was organized by three UW economists who are developing behavioral models of fishing to assess alternative management approaches for reducing the impact of Alaska pollock and cod fisheries on Steller sea lion habitat. The workshop was attended by 20 economists, biologists, and statisticians from NMFS and various universities. The workshop included 1) an overview of Alaska groundfish regulation and key seasonal/spatial patterns in fishing; 2) an exchange of perspectives on spatial fishing models and the key problems and promising directions of discrete choice fishing location models; 3) a review of work to date on the spatial model being developed by UW economists; 4) discussions of econometric and policy issues; and 5) discussions of future research. The workshop participants agreed that future collaborative work should address the issues of bycatch.

Community Profiles Update

Which communities are involved with fisheries in the North Pacific and what are they like? AFSC anthropologist Jennifer Sepez is leading a team of graduate students from the UW in updating the comprehensive community profiles from the 1992 Faces of the Fisheries publication by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The preliminary list of 188 communities, based on various forms of participation in state and Federal fisheries in the North Pacific, includes 119 communities from Alaska, with the remainder in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. Profile topics include demography, history, social and physical infrastructure, and commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries involvement. Data is being compiled from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). When completed, the profiles will be a resource for stakeholders and scholars interested in the social aspects of North Pacific fishing communities and will provide a baseline of information for analysis of future impacts. The project is linked to a larger national effort to collect social science data on fishing communities throughout the United States.

Local Fisheries Knowledge

The NOAA Local Fisheries Knowledge Pilot Project is a collaborative effort to document the experience and expertise of local fishermen. Susan Abbott-Jamieson, NOAA Senior Social Scientist, is working in conjunction with the Rural School and Community Trust to initiate the place-based learning and research project. High school students will be taught how to conduct interviews with local, resident fishermen and their families for recording information on diverse subjects ranging from unusual ecological phenomena to beliefs about luck at sea. The resulting interview transcripts will be coded and made available to researchers and the public on the internet. Jennifer Sepez is on the national advisory panel for the project, which met for the first time in April in Machais, Maine. The research will be conducted in two coastal communities in Maine over the next academic year. If the pilot project is successful in Maine, the research will be expanded to other communities, and Alaska will likely be the next region to receive attention.

By Joe Terry.

U.S.-Korea Bilateral Conference

The U.S.-Korea Bilateral Conference on Fisheries Science was held at the AFSC 23-24 June 2003. REFM Division Director Rich Marasco was the lead for the U.S. side. The following issues were reviewed and compared: fisheries assessment, fisheries management, ecosystem- based management, climate changes as they affect fisheries, resource surveys, and directions of research undertaken by Korea and the United States.

It was agreed to undertake the following programs:

  1. Establish information exchange on important fishery issues and assessment methodologies.
  2. Provide opportunities for visiting scientists to facilitate communications of methods and techniques to address key issues. It was recommended that two or more scientists from each country should participate in this exchange program next year.
  3. Identify opportunities for comparative studies at the individual investigator level.
  4. Develop a joint research program between the two countries.

The third U.S.-Korea bilateral meeting will be held in May 2004 in Korea, with a symposium on Stock Assessment Improvement Plans.

NPAFC Research Planning Meeting

NPAFC Parties' plans for 2003 research cruises with visiting scientists.




Visiting Scientists


Wakatake maru


N. Davis (U.S.)


Kaiyo maru


A. Vlokov (Russia)
A. Baitayluk (Russia)
V. Savin (Russia)
K. Myers (U.S.)
R. Walker (U.S)
B. Wing (U.S.)




Unnamed (U.S.)


Sea Storm


O. Ivanov (Russia)
V. Natochi (Russia)
M. Trudel (Canada)


John N. Cobb


T. Saito (Japan)

The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission meeting was held at the Fisheries Research Institute, University of Washington, 29-30 May 2003. The meeting addressed salmon research planning and coordination issues as well as BASIS (Bering Sea-Aleutians Salmon International Studies) research by Parties of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (Canada, Japan, Russia, and the United States). Most of the U.S. participants were from the Auke Bay Laboratory, the ADF&G, and the UW. Loh-Lee Low served as U.S. lead for the meeting.

By Loh-Lee Low.


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