Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Pacific Coast groundfish trawl fishery social study

The Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries implemented a new management system in the West Coast Groundfish Fishery in January 2011. The new system is a catch shares program. These types of management programs are known to have impacts on the individuals in the fishery. As a result, this research aims to collect socio-cultural data over time. This will allow the measurement and description of any changes and impacts the new catch shares system has had on the participants of the fishery or the local and correlated fishing communities. A baseline data collection effort was conducted in 2010, prior to the implementation of the program. A second round of data collection was conducted in 2012. A third round of data is being collected in 2015/2016, one year after quota shares became transferable. Additional data collection will be considered in the future. Data will be reported for each individual year as well as in comparison across years.

Study Background

The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) and the NOAA Fisheries, West Coast Region per the The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (reauthorized 2007)(MSA) P.L. 109-479, sec. 302.f implemented a new rationalization or catchshares program for the Pacific Trawl Groundfish and Whiting fisheries in January 2011.

Changes in how fisheries are managed not only result in changes in stock assessments, stock abundance, and species recovery, but also results in changes to the people within the fishery.

Scientific research in other fisheries that have adopted quota or "catchshare" type management systems has shown impacts to the people working in the fishery. Industry members including fishermen/crew members, processors, and equipment suppliers such as net suppliers are likely to notice changes in the fishery. The type and degree of change will depend on the characteristics of the fishery and the management system.

Human Dimensions Research

Social scientists in NOAA Fisheries study the human species in an effort to better understand human behavior, institutions, and relations to one another and the natural world. In the realm of fisheries, social scientists within the Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s Human Dimensions Program focus on a greater understanding of the link between people and marine resources such as fish, marine mammals, and marine ecosystems. This research provides information that supports NOAA Fisheries and other agencies and contributes to the larger pool of scientific information that is available to the public and greater research community.

Groundfish Fishery Study

In this study, scientists will strive to better understand and describe individuals and fishing communities, as well as their connections, and degree of involvement in the West Coast Groundfish Fishery. Scientists will collect new information that is uniquely obtained through survey responses and conversations with fishing industry members. The information collected will provide a greater understanding of the human dimension of the fishery.

In addition, this research will be conducted repetitively over time to generate a foundational or baseline description of the fishery both before and after the management change. Repeated studies will show how the human dimensions of the fishery have changed over time. Capturing snapshots of the fishery both before and after the management change will help identify and measure social impacts that have occurred as a result of the catch-shares implementation.

Researchers will work with industry members to collect social and cultural information through interviews, focus groups, and a survey tool. Contact with industry members will be primarily in-person, as well as over the phone, and electronically when necessary.

This study provides an opportunity for industry members to communicate unique information about the fishery. The information generated will clarify and expand upon our knowledge of fishing communities and how they are linked not only to the Groundfish fishery but to other fisheries as well. This project will improve our ability to describe fishing communities and provide a more accurate representation of those communities. The more information we have about the human dimension of the fishery, the more social information can be made available and contribute towards improving fisheries management.

2010 Baseline Data Collection

The first effort to collect data was conducted in the Fall of 2010. This effort collected data prior to the implementation of the program. Data was collected in communities from Bellingham, WA, to Morro Bay, CA. We thank all those who participated in this effort.

2012 Data Collection

In 2012, researchers collected the first round of data after the implementation of the program. Data collected duplicated the data collected in 2010 and included new information specific to the catch shares program. Data collection commenced in August of 2012 and concluded by December 31, 2012. We thank all those who participated in this effort.

2015/2016 Data Collection

Starting in the autumn of 2015, the second round of data collection after implementation will start. This data collected is important as it will reflect information several years after implementation; as well as over a year after the quota shares in the program have become transferable. Data collected will again duplicate the information collected in the prior years and include new questions regarding the new activities in the fishery. This data is felt to represent a very important time to obtain new information as it will reflect the most change in the system. Data collected in this round will be compared to the 2010 and 2012 data collection efforts and contribute to the 5 year review of the program.

Documents & Flyers

Data has been and continues to be analyzed. Several documents are being produced and will be made available either via links below or upon request. Clink on the links below to access documents that are currently available.

2010 Pacific Groundfish Fishery Social Study, Baseline Preliminary Results Flyer

The Pacific Groundfish Fishery: An Initial Theme Based Report

2015/2016 General Information Flyer

2010/2012 Pacific Groundfish Fishery Social Study, Comparative Snapshot Flyer

To help obtain the most accurate and detailed information of all the fishing industry members and the related communities we encourage your participation! For more information on how to participate, go the Participate in the Study page.

Please click here to access the survey tool.

Contact Information

Study Email address:

Please send general information inquires, and completed surveys to this email address.