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Has the public cost of fishery management changed?

Indicators: Appropriations, Grants and Expenditures NE Sector Program Appropriations and Costs

Short Answer: Data provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service for fiscal years 2009 through 2014 give additional detail to understanding the public cost of implementing catch shares in the Northeast Sector Program.

Key Findings

  • Substantial upfront investment was made in the NE Sector Program, including disaster assistance and grant funding.
  • Federal dollars for the program began in FY10 and peaked in FY11. As funding decreased for some activities, such as dockside monitoring, overall funding declined.

Interactive Chart Story


Expenditures specific to the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program for fiscal years 2009 through 2014.


During Catch Share Program

Funding information related directly to the Northeast Sector Program provided by the NOAA Office of Sustainable Fisheries, though an estimate, still provides a more focused picture of public investment in the cost of development the program.

Tracking the investments across management, data collection, monitoring and enforcement in the Northeast with national appropriations for the same Program, Project and Activity (PPAs) shows that overall support and regional support both peaked in FY2011. In individual program areas, investments in the Northeast peaked in FY13 for management, in FY12 for data collection, and in FY11 for monitoring and enforcement. In contrast, overall federal support for those program areas was highest in FY11, FY10, and FY14 for management, data, and monitoring respectively. The industry began paying for catch monitoring in 2016, but were reimbursed for 80 percent of the cost. Reimbursements for monitoring costs declined to 60 percent in 2017. The agency has weathered challenges to the cost and extent of catch monitoring by fishermen and environmental groups. The costs of catch monitoring, extent of observer coverage, and challenges to both are discussed in Observer Coverage, Private Cost of Management and Litigation.

Funding from Disaster Assistance, Cooperative Research, and Saltonstall-Kennedy Grants, were important sources of support at the beginning of the Northeast Sector program, but are not included in this chart because they are appropriated at the discretion of Congress (Federal Support to the NE Groundfish Fishery ).

The development of the Northeast Sector program, because of provisions in the law, included a referendum on whether the program was to be a Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs) (NE Fishery Overview). When the designation as a LAPP was rejected, it obviated the MSA requirement for cost recovery, and the agency is not required to track program costs to as significant a level of detail as in the case of other catch share programs.



For this (call out) analysis only, the categories displayed as “national support” for the NE Sector Program differ from those in Chart 2, Budget appropriations for NMFS Activities. The categories developed by NMFS in response to a data request cover three areas for the years 2009 through 2014. The Northeast Sector-specific data are:

  • Management subtotal (includes Fisheries Research and Management PPA and the National Catch Share PPA).
  • The Data Collection subtotal includes the Economics and Social Science Programs PPA and the Fish Statistics PPA.
  • The Monitoring and Enforcement subtotal includes the Observers/Training PPA, as well as some funding from the National Catch Share Program PPA that supports monitoring, observing, and enforcement.

In order to make a comparison between trends in national support for catch share programs and what investments were made in the Northeast program, data were drawn from NOAA budget documents for the same PPAs combined in the Northeast Sector-specific data provided by NMFS.

Data Gaps and Limitations

The funding information provided in the table is a best estimate of costs. NMFS points out that support of catch share programs is drawn from numerous PPAs as well as the “Limited Access Program” line item. For example, in many cases, small portions of larger PPAs, such as research and management, or enforcement, directly support catch share management activities. The three categories in which NE Sector Program specific expenditures are shown are: Management, Data Collection, and Monitoring and Enforcement.

Information Sources

Personal communication. Memorandum from Kelly Denit, Division Chief, Sustainable Stocks & Ecosystems, NOAA Office of Sustainable Fisheries. October 26, 2016.

NOAA Fisheries. 2014. News release. Six fisheries in U.S. to receive fishery disaster relief funds. Feb. 26, 2014. http://www.noaa.gov/six-fisheries-us-receive-fishery-disaster-relief-funds

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