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Resource Ecology & Fisheries Management (cont.)

Economic Data Collection Programs

REFM staff continue to represent the AFSC on the Interagency Economic Data Committee.  The committee is revising a proposal to increase the availability of fishery economic data for North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC)-managed fisheries.  The committee submitted its report to the Council in February. Joe Terry prepared a discussion paper “Objective Measures and the Data Required to Monitor the Success of the Crab Rationalization Program” for the Council which identifies objective measures that can be used to monitor the success of the crab rationalization program, identifies the data required to support those objective measures, and briefly discusses several issues associated with implementing mandatory reporting requirements for these data. The types of measures discussed in the paper are intended to allow the Council to monitor the success of the crab rationalization program in terms of addressing five problems currently facing the fishery (as identified in the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab rationalization problem statement prepared by the Council in February 2002).  The five problems and the summary of the problems facing the Council are:

  • Resource conservation, utilization and management problems;
  • Bycatch and its associated mortalities, and potential landing deadloss;
  • Excess harvesting and processing capacity, as well as low economic returns;
  • Lack of economic stability for harvesters, processors and coastal communities; and
  • High levels of occupational loss of life and injury.

In cooperation with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), Todd Lee has engaged in a project to collect economic data from halibut, charter boat operators.  The purpose of this survey is to provide information about the economic performance of the halibut charter fleet.  The data from this project has been entered into a database and some preliminary summary analysis has been completed.  The final report from this project is expected to be completed by December 2002.

Regulatory Analysis of North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program Regulations

Program staff assisted developing proposed changes to the regulations that implement the Observer Program and preparing the regulatory analysis of the proposed changes.  The regulations that authorize and implement the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program expire 31 December 2002.  The regulatory analysis addressed three alternatives for extending the regulations, which are: 1) allow the regulations and the Observer Program to expire (the no action alternative); 2)  extend the regulations indefinitely with the expectation that they would be amended periodically to maintain or increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the Observer Program; and 3) extend the regulations through 31 December 2007.

In addition, two complementary options for improving the existing regulations were addressed.  Option 1 would: 1) change the observer certification and decertification process to ensure that it is compliant with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA); 2) change the observer certification criteria and standards of behavior to clarify and strengthen these regulations; 3) replace the observer provider (contractor) certification and decertification process with an APA compliant permitting process similar to that used for other NMFS Alaska Region permits; and 4) change the duties and responsibilities of observer providers in order to eliminate ambiguities and to strengthen the regulations governing the relationship between NMFS and the observer providers.  Option 2 would increase the ability of NMFS to interact effectively with observers, fishermen, and processing plant employees by granting to NMFS the authority to place NMFS staff and other qualified persons aboard groundfish and halibut vessels and at groundfish plants.

Other Activities

A spending plan developed for funds provided by the NMFS Office of Science and Technology  provides support for the following projects.  The projects are intended to improve the economic data and models that are available both to monitor the economic performance of Federally managed fisheries and to support the economic analysis of fishery management actions.

  1. Input price data collection
  2. Cost, earnings and employment survey
  3. Survey data verification
  4. Electronic economic  data logbook pilot study
  5. Observer Program economic data entry contract
  6. Develop supply and demand models for groundfish
  7. Improvement of regional economic models
  8. Logbook enhancement and data entry
  9. Repeat survey for halibut charter boat fishery

By Joe Terry.

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