Has the time required to manage the fishery changed?
Short Answer: Since implementation of the Northeast Groundfish Sector Program, the New England Fishery Management Council has spent less time debating and approving management measures.
- The development of Amendment 16, which created the sector program, took nearly 100 days of participation by dozens of council and agency staff, and fishery stakeholders over a three-year period.
- Since the program took effect in 2010, the time spent by the Council on groundfish measures has fallen, but time spent by NMFS, as represented by rulemaking, has increased.
- The proportion of federal rulemaking on groundfish management in general remained the same, but in-season adjustments increased, mainly related to common pool operations.
Interactive Chart Story
In the absence of a record of the amount of time the New England Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) spend on various topics, this indicator uses actions as an indicator of time required to manage the fishery. The “actions” used to develop the metric were decisions related to development of Amendment 16 and the Sector Program that the Council voted upon, approved, adopted, decided, recommended. Appointments, meeting notices, and general rules are not included. Proposed and final rules implementing in-season adjustments and agency actions noticed in the federal register are used as a proxy for NMFS time spent.
Baseline: Before Catch Share Program
The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) meets five to six times per year to discuss its nine Fishery Management Plans (FMPs; Northeast Multispecies, Scallops, Monkfish, Herring, Small Mesh Multispecies, Dogfish, Red Crab, Skates, Atlantic Salmon), along with administrative and legislative topics and trending issues such as essential fish habitat, ecosystem-based management, and marine protected areas. Therefore the indicator presents — as a proxy for time — changes in the number of actions related to development of Amendment 16 and the Sector Program that the Council approved, adopted, decided, or recommended, and the number of regulatory actions published in the Federal Register taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Although certain meetings may have a focus on one FMP, during the baseline period of 2002–2009, every meeting had at least some discussion of all FMPs. Groundfish actions represented an average of more than half of the Council’s yearly decision-making through the period. Although certain meetings may have a focus on one FMP, during the project baseline of 2002–2009, most meetings included discussion of three to four FMPs. Three special meetings dealing exclusively with groundfish occurred in the period. Groundfish actions represented an average of just above 40 percent of the Council’s yearly actions. Groundfish rules promulgated by NMFS as a proportion of Council-related rulemaking averaged about 30 percent.
The Congressional moratorium on the creation of new IFQ programs expired in 2002. The Council began discussion of some form of limited access privilege program (LAPP; the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program is not considered a LAPP as defined by the MSA, but it is a type of catch share program) related to groundfish management that year with the possibility of leasing days-at-sea (DAS). As the Council began development of Amendment 13 (Management Framework) to the Northeast Multispecies FMP, the first proposal for a sector allocation (Cape Cod Commercial Hook Association, CCCHA) was brought forward in June 2002 meeting, where participants spent more than 20 hours discussing possible alternatives. The amendment was approved in 2004, including provisions for DAS transfers (rather than leasing) and the CCCHA sector. Another sector, Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear, was approved in 2006. In the Sector Program development phase (2006 through 2009), Council actions devoted to groundfish management and to developing the catch share program represented more than 40 percent of all Council actions.
In November 2006, creation of additional sectors was discussed in a day-long workshop related to development of Amendment 16 (Northeast Multispecies Sector Program). The time federal and Council employees devoted to sector development can be inferred from the numbers of activities, events, meetings, and procedures that led to the Sector Program eventually approved by the Secretary of Commerce in January 2010. These actions are summarized in the included table of meetings from 2006-2010.
During Catch Share Program
Since the implementation of Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies FMP in 2010, the amount of time the Council has spent (as reflected in the proportion of sector actions as a subset of groundfish actions) has decreased from an average of more than 7 percent to an average of 6 percent in the years 2010 through 2016. The Council voted to authorize the regional administrator to make in-season adjustments such as trip limit changes, relieving the Council of the time required to meet and discuss adjustments, as they did prior to 2010. The Council approved revisions to Amendment 18, made final in April 2017. Amendment 20 spelled out standard bycatch reporting methodology, and Amendment 23, on monitoring, is still in development. During the period the council also approved numerous framework adjustments, such as annual catch limits, to measures in the sector program.
At the conclusion of the seventh year of the program, groundfish decision-making took up less than 20 percent of the Council’s actions on an annual basis, and sector program actions represented only 3 percent of the Council’s time. In terms of time spent by NMFS, the percent of groundfish actions as a portion of all rules pertaining to the New England Council, increased after implementation of the program to nearly 40 percent of all federal rulemaking for the region. Rulemaking for the sectors includes approval of plans, adjustments to ACLs, and other regularly occurring actions. The percentage of in-season adjustment rules pertaining to groundfish (catch share and non-catch share) have grown from 2010 through 2016’s. Most of the in-season adjustment rules are openings and closings for the common pool segment of the fishery, to prevent overages of its TAC, which is broken into trimesters and adjusted as landings approach each periodic quota. (See Northeast Groundfish Fishery Overview for explanation of common pool allocation.)
This indicator uses actions as a proxy for the amount of time the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the New England Fishery Management Council, and the National Marine Fisheries Service spent managing the respective fisheries. Actions related to groundfish management taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the New England Fishery Management Council, and regulatory actions by the National Marine Fisheries Service published in the Federal Register serve as proxies for time spent managing the respective fisheries. Council actions included in the analysis were limited to those identified as “approve,” “adopt,” “vote,” “decide,” or “recommend.” A comparison of actions taken for all managed fisheries over time is compared to actions taken for groundfish management to determine proportions of time spent managing groundfish. Actions taken for catch share management in the respective groundfish fisheries are examined as a subset of all groundfish management actions to isolate the proportion of time dedicated to developing and managing the catch share programs. Rule-making, as recorded by notices of FMP amendments, openings, closures, and adjustments to catch limits, provides the proxy for time spent by NMFS regional office staff (at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the West Coast Regional Office). Interviews and text analysis provided additional information in support of observed data on management time.
Data Gaps and Limitations
This indicator uses a comparison of all Council action items, groundfish action items, and groundfish catch share actions as a proxy for time. Rulemaking, as recorded by notices of proposed and final rules on FMP amendments, openings, closures, and adjustments to catch limits provides the proxy for time spent by staff of the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Office. Fishery managers were consulted for advice on what action types to include.
Federal Register. 2002 – 2017. NOAA Rules for Northeast Groundfish Fishery. Available online: https://www.federalregister.gov/
New England Fishery Management Council. 2018. Meeting briefing books, minutes, agendas. 2002 – 2017. Available online at: https://www.nefmc.org/library#keywords=&start_date=&end_date=&type=&related=17&page=1
NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. 2002–2017. Permit Holder Letters and Announcements. Available online: https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/nr/index.html
Personal communication. October 31, 2013. Interview with Tom Nies, executive director, NEFMC.
Updated: July 2018
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