New England Fisheries

NOAA’s 2011 Groundfish Report by the Numbers

The NEFMC voted against raising the haddock bycatch cap for herring trawlers. Photo credit: NOAA/NEFSC

On December 26th, NOAA released its “2011 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery (May 2011-April 2012).” Overall, the report indicates that groundfish catch and net revenues are increasing steadily, although some stocks, most notably Georges Bank haddock, are fished at a level far below the annual catch limit. Consolidation and equity issues are still a major concern. Measures of fleet inequality generally improved from 2010 levels, and the decline in boat numbers has slowed noticeably following a sharp drop-off between 2009 and 2010. Here are some highlights of the data.

  • Although still down from 2009 levels, groundfish landings increased from 58,622,152 pounds in 2010 to 61,721,659 pounds in 2011. Non-groundfish landings by groundfish vessels increased more dramatically, from 178,073,284 pounds in 2010 to 213,785,250 pounds in 2011.
  • Overall, the fishery caught just 41% of its ACE for all groundfish species combined, up from 36% in 2010. The fishery caught at least 80% of the ACE for seven stocks: Georges Bank East cod, Gulf of Maine cod, white hake, Georges Bank winter flounder, Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine yellowtail flounder, Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, and Southern New England yellowtail flounder. Just 12% of the Georges Bank haddock ACE was caught.
  • Gross nominal revenues for groundfish vessels rose for both groundfish and non-groundfish species, with total revenues rising from $294,505,995 in 2010 to $330,885,325 in 2011. Every major port in New England saw an increase in the nominal value of its landings. Average prices rose for both groundfish and non-groundfish species.
  • The increase in non-groundfish revenues was due in large part to increases in value and landed pounds of Atlantic herring ($2,887,611 in 2010 to $6,369,746 in 2011), sea scallops ($71,612,613 in 2010 to $90,321,367 in 2011), and monkfish ($14,896,249 in 2010 to $21,637,981 in 2011).
  • Average net revenue per vessel from all species on declared groundfish trips increased for all vessel size categories. The largest percentage increase was for vessels under 30 feet, for which average revenues from groundfish trips rose from $1,594 to $3,952. Net revenues are calculated as the value of landings minus trip costs, which do not include the cost of leasing additional catch entitlement.
  • Average trip costs per day increased for all vessel size classes for groundfish trips, but decreased for all vessel classes for non-groundfish trips. These trip costs include the cost of sector organization fees, fuel, oil ice, bait, and other supplies, but they do not include the cost of leasing additional catch entitlement. In 2011, the total lease value of leased catch entitlement was $15.1 million, up from $11.3 million in 2010, likely contributing significantly to groundfish trip costs. Prices for a lease of one pound of ACE ranged from $0 for haddock to $1.25 for Gulf of Maine cod.
  • The number of vessels that reported revenue from at least one groundfish trip declined from 445 in 2010 to 420 in 2011. Vessels fishing in the common pool, rather than in a sector, accounted for all but two of this decrease in boats. Of the major New England ports, Gloucester experienced the greatest decrease in active vessels during this period. This smaller decrease follows a large drop from 570 active boats in 2009 and a consistent decline since at least 2007.
  • In 2011, 64.8% of nominal revenues from all species were earned by the top 20% of groundfish boats. This is a slight decrease from 2011, when 65.8% of revenues were earned by the top 20%, but is still higher than the 2009 value of 60.6%. A measure of inequality, the Gini coefficient, also improved slightly from 0.830 in 2010 to 0.822 in 2011, although still off the 2009 value of 0.762 (0=perfect equality, 1=absolute inequality).
  • Larger vessels also caught more of their allocated (Annual Catch Entitlement) ACE, with boats over 75 feet catching 49% of their entitlement, compared to 20% for boats between 30 and 50 feet.


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