Approach and Timeline


Objective, Transparent, and Scientifically Rigorous

The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares Project is intended to support people in informing their own understanding of and decisions about catch shares, rather than to advocate for or against catch shares. Accordingly, our approach focuses entirely on providing reliable, objective, understandable information based on rigorous scientific analysis of real-world data. We are tracking a set of indicators that were selected for their potential to answer one or more key questions based on scientifically sound evidence.

Tracking the indicators relies heavily on data collected by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other sources, with supplemental data collection conducted by the project team where appropriate. To identify trends prior to the catch share programs, we analyze data for a baseline period that extends back to 2002, and further in some cases. The relatively long timeframe provides context for understanding the changes that occur after the start of the catch share programs.

In reporting the results, we present only the status and trends that exist in the data. We make no judgments about whether the status and trends are desirable or undesirable, or whether the catch share programs should be continued, discontinued, or altered.

We strive for complete transparency about the methods and data sources used in each indicator analysis. We include information about methods and data when reporting the indicator results, and we invite people to contact us with questions about the methods, data, and results.

Communication and Engagement

The goal of the Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares Project is to provide a set of neutral, scientific indicators that can be used by fisheries managers, fishermen, and other interested parties to determine how catch shares have affected fishing communities, fishing businesses, and fish stocks of the Northeast and West Coast. Strategic communication about the Project and about the indicators is essential to achieving the Project goal. From the start, we have focused on communication as a vital component of the Project. The Project’s communication goals are

  • to help ensure that the indicators are viewed as legitimate, credible, and salient,
  • to provide target audiences with information about the project and the indicators that is useful, timely, and engaging, and
  • to help maximize the indicators’ value and utility for fisheries decision making.

We report the results in narratives accompanied by interactive charts, which enable users to explore the data and to dig deeper into the results. This is the first effort to make such a broad range of catch share information easily accessible in one place on the web. We are developing new, user-friendly ways of presenting the data, and this website will evolve as a dashboard for tracking changes in the catch share fisheries.

As part of our communication efforts, we are meeting and talking with people engaged in all aspects of the fisheries. We continually seek out opportunities to learn from stakeholders and managers about how our work can best support their decision making. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about the project, providing comments or ideas, or receiving project updates.

Project Began in 2011 and Will Conclude in 2017

The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares Project began in 2011 and continues into 2017. We release results on a rolling basis as data become available and analyses are completed after each fishing year. The West Coast groundfish trawl fishery operates January 1 to December 31, and the Northeast groundfish fishery runs from May 1 to April 30. In 2017, we will release final results for the first five years of the two catch share programs.

Phase 1 (2011): Identify Indicators and Develop Methodology

Through literature reviews, interviews, and stakeholder workshops, MRAG Americas and scientists from the University of Washington identified a set of indicators to measure the economic, social, and ecological effects of catch shares programs. MRAG then developed a methodology to implement the indicators for the first five years of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program and the West Coast Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program.

Phase 2 (2012–2017): Implement Methodology and Report Results

Beginning in December 2012, we conducted a thorough vetting of the selected indicators and methodology. In meetings with stakeholders, scientists, and managers, we solicited comments and critiques to help refine and improve the set of indicators. As part of this process, we worked with the National Marine Fisheries Service and others to ensure that this project builds on and does not duplicate related efforts to analyze catch share programs. We are now implementing the indicators by obtaining and analyzing data on an ongoing basis and periodically releasing results.