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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Improving the Usefulness of Logbook Data in the North Pacific Groundfish Fisheries

ESSR Program researchers Drs. Stephen Kasperski and Alan Haynie are conducting research relating to the use of logbook data to improve knowledge for fisheries management in Alaska. Logbook reporting is a major data reporting requirement for fishers in the North Pacific groundfish fisheries. However, at present, the logbooks are not verified for accuracy nor digitized to make them available to fishery analysts.

While NMFS has implemented a substantial observer program in the North Pacific to monitor the activities of large groundfish vessels and crab vessels, the majority of catcher vessels lack adequate observer coverage. For example, of the 603 catcher vessels that landed walleye pollock or Pacific cod in 2007, only 38 had full observer coverage, while 202 were between 60 and 125 ft and thus had only 30% observer coverage. Therefore, we lack information on the spatial distribution of catch and effort levels for 60% of these groundfish vessels.

Logbook data has the potential to provide a significant amount of information on vessel catch and effort. However, rather than expending large amounts of money to digitize logbooks whose accuracy and potential utility have not been ascertained, we are conducting a structured cost/benefit analysis to evaluate the current status of the North Pacific logbook data to determine how this information can be used to better inform fisheries management and reduce the reporting of redundant information.

By Stephen Kasperski and Alan Haynie

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