Link to NMFS Homepage Link to NOAA Homepage Keyboard Navigation Alaska Fisheries Science Center Home banner



Economic Data Collection Programs

Center economists are participating in a joint effort by NMFS, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), and the International Pacific Halibut Commission to develop an electronic reporting system initially for landings data for the Alaska groundfish and halibut fisheries. The system is intended to provide more accurate, complete and timely data for management agencies. The emphasis is on collecting trip level data by vessel. Center staff prepared a brief discussion paper on additional data elements that could be collected with this system and used for economic and sociocultural research and regulatory analyses.

Fishing Industry Productivity and Capacity

Dr. Ron Felthoven and Terry Hiatt completed a report titled “Fishing Capacity and Utilization for Vessels Participating in Federally Managed Alaska Groundfish Fisheries, 2002". This report was included in the Economic Appendix to the stock assessment and fishery evaluation (SAFE) reports for the Bering Sea-Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) groundfish fisheries. The report presents estimates of groundfish fishing capacity, capacity utilization, and fishery utilization for the vessels that participated in federally managed commercial fisheries off Alaska in 2002. Estimates are provided for nine subgroups of catcher vessels, five subgroups of catcher-processors, and seven groundfish species or species groups. The estimates indicate that current capacity, in terms of total catch of all groundfish species, exceeds actual catch by nearly 50% and has increased relative to 2001 due in part to an increase in catch per fishing vessel week for some subgroups. In 2002, species-specific excess capacity estimates range from 28% to 53%, and vessel subgroup-specific excess capacity estimates range from 27% to 75% for catcher vessels and from 26% to 110% for catcher-processors.

Dr. Felthoven is working with economists from NMFS and universities in the United States and Norway to host a principal paper session on fishing industry productivity and capacity at the 2004 American Agricultural Economists Association annual meetings. He completed a paper titled “Performance Measures for Fishery Rationalization Programs: Data and Other Considerations” with Dr. Dan Holland (The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Ltd.). The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) is currently developing a plan to “rationalize” the BSAI crab fisheries. A mandatory data collection program will be implemented simultaneously to assess the effects on both the harvesting and processing sectors. Monitoring the performance of the rationalization program relative to its objectives will allow regulators and the industry to identify whether rationalization is achieving its objectives and may aid the design of future rationalization programs in other fisheries. This paper discusses various measures that may be used to monitor the impacts of rationalization programs on plant and vessel performance, and identifies the data required to adequately construct the measures. They also discuss some hurdles that must be overcome to properly interpret and use such data. Many of the concepts discussed are applicable in fisheries other than BSAI crab and may serve as a useful guide to those tasked with assessing the data needed to analyze the effects of rationalization.

Regional Economics in the North Pacific

Dr. Chang Seung prepared information concerning the importance of seafood processing in Alaska to regional economic activity in Alaska in terms of the following: 1) the percentage of total employment in a region accounted for by seafood processing employment, 2) labor earnings in seafood processing as a percentage of total regional labor earnings, 3) multipliers for an example Alaska region, Kodiak Island Borough, and 4) economic base analysis for 11 selected fishery-dependent areas using employment and labor income multipliers. This is the first time regional economic analysis and information was included in the SAFE reports for the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. Subsequent analyses will address the importance of other sectors of the fishing industry to regional economic actively in Alaska and in other states.

In addition, Dr. Seung prepared employment data for a study of the relationship between landings and seafood processing employment and collected and examined studies on regional social accounting matrix (SAM) approach to economic base analysis for Alaska fisheries. He discussed research issues on the approach with a Pacific Fishery Management Council economist, developed a program to generate a regional SAM, generated and balanced the first-version of a 48-sector Alaska SAM, revised IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning) data with other supplementary data, developed an initial set of SAM multipliers, and examined the Oregon coast CGE (Computable General Equilibrium)model which will be revised for Alaska fishery CGE modeling.

Groundfish SAFE Reports

The report “Economic status of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska, 2002" was completed. The report is the Economic Appendix to the SAFE reports for the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries. The report provides estimates of total groundfish catch, groundfish discards and discard rates, prohibited species bycatch and bycatch rates, the exvessel value of the groundfish catch, the exvessel value of the catch in other Alaska fisheries, the gross product value (F.O.B. Alaska) of the resulting groundfish seafood products, the number and sizes of vessels that participated in the Alaska groundfish fisheries, vessel activity, and employment on at-sea processors. In addition, this report contains data on some of the external factors which, in part, determine the economic status of the fisheries. Such factors include foreign exchange rates, the prices and price indexes of products that compete with products from these fisheries, cold storage holdings, domestic per capita consumption of seafood products, and fishery imports. For the first time, the report contains some regional economic information. The estimates in this report are intended both to provide information that can be used to describe the Alaska groundfish fisheries and to provide industry and others an opportunity to comment on the validity of these estimates.

The domestic groundfish fishery off Alaska is an important segment of the U.S. fishing industry. With a total catch of 2.1 million metric tons (t), a retained catch of 2.0 million t, and an ex-vessel value of $566 million in 2002, it accounted for 49% of the weight and 18% of the ex-vessel value of total U.S. domestic landings as reported in Fisheries of the United States, 2002. The value of the 2002 catch after primary processing was approximately $1.5 billion (F.O.B. Alaska). The groundfish fisheries accounted for the largest share (58%) of the ex-vessel value of all commercial fisheries off Alaska in 2002, while the shellfish fishery, with an ex-vessel value of $149 million, displaced salmon for the second largest share (15%) of the total Alaska ex-vessel value. The value of the Pacific salmon catch amounted to $130 million or 13% of the total for Alaska.

The report also contained analyses of fishing capacity and the regional economic impacts of fisheries. These analyses are discussed above. Program staff also contributed to the preparation of the Ecosystem Chapter of the SAFE reports.

National Bycatch Strategy

Center, Regional Office, and Council staff have assisted in implementing the National Strategy for Bycatch that was developed earlier this year. Specifically, they: 1) assisted in revising the National Working Group on Bycatch report “Evaluating Bycatch: A National Approach to Standardized Bycatch Monitoring Programs”; 2) assisted in preparing the report “NOAA Fisheries Objectives, Protocol, and Recommended Precision Goals for Standardized Bycatch Reporting”; and 3) prepared the draft final report “Alaska Region Current Bycatch Priorities and Implementation Plan”. These three reports are available at

In addition, Center economists prepared two research proposals to address bycatch issues. One proposal is focused on improving the estimates of bycatch calculated for vessels without observer coverage. The other proposal is to develop a synthesis of the approaches used throughout the world in multi-species Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) programs, and to suggest a methodology that could be used with the Gulf of Alaska groundfish rationalization program that is being developed.

Fishing Communities

Drs. Jennifer Sepez and Karma Norman prepared a joint AFSC/NWFSC research proposal to develop profiles of fishing community in the Western States. This research will build on a similar project for fishing communities in Alaska. The AFSC will be involved in this research because there are fishing communities outside of Alaska that are substantially dependent on or substantially engaged in fisheries off Alaska. In addition, Dr. Sepez prepared a research proposal to investigate the migration of halibut and sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program Quota Shares from small, rural communities.

Data Requests

Data were summarized and provided to assist the Council, NMFS, the industry, and the public by the following: 1) preparing community profiles; 2) preparing the EIS on Essential Fish Habitat for the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries; 3) developing and analyzing Improved Retention/Improved Utilization (IR/IU) alternatives for the BSAI groundfish fishery; 4) preparing regulatory analysis of alternatives to establish a new program for observer procurement and deployment in the BSAI and GOA groundfish fisheries; 5) modeling fishing location choices by fishermen; and 6) understanding the relative importance of the of the groundfish fisheries in the Aleutians Islands area, the eastern Bering Sea, and the Gulf of Alaska.

By Joe Terry.


quarterly Oct-Dec 2003 sidebar Contents


Auke Bay Lab

National Marine
Mammal Lab

RACE Division

REFM Division

Quarterly Index

Quarterly Home