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July-Aug-Sept 2011
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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Center for Independent Experts Review: Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Economic Data Report Program

The Economic and Social Sciences Research (ESSR) program partnered with the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) to undertake a peer review of methodological practices employed in the development and administration of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Crab Economic Data Report (EDR) program. The crab EDR program has been managed by the ESSR program under the direction of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and in accordance with 50 CFR 680.6 since the transition to the rationalized management regime in 2005. The EDR program is currently under consideration by the Council for substantial revisions to address changing analytical objectives, data quality limitations, and excessive submitter burden. Final action by the Council to identify mandatory economic reporting requirements is expected in December 2011, with regulatory changes and implementation procedures to be developed subsequently. To support implementation of the Council's final action concerning the BSAI crab EDR program using best scientific and methodological practices, the AFSC has sought guidance from independent experts in the fields of applied economic analysis of fishery resource management, design and testing of economic surveys of business establishments, and methods for data quality assessment and data quality control.

The CIE steering committee appointed the following individuals to provide independent peer reviews:

  • Dr. Susan Hanna, Professor Emeritus of Marine Economics, Oregon State University
  • Dr. Danna L. Moore, Associate Director, Social & Economic Sciences Research Center, Washington State University
  • Dr. Richard Wang, Director, Information Quality Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The panel convened a public meeting at the AFSC on 23-24 August 2011. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Chris Anderson of University of Rhode Island and included the participation of crab industry representatives and other members of the public. ESSR program staff and contractors presented documentation of methods and practices employed to date in the implementation of the data collection, validation, and dissemination, and panel members engaged both agency staff and industry participants in active discussion throughout the course of the meeting. The completed peer review reports were received on 3 October, and the meeting chair's report is being finalized. All completed reports and documents used in the review are available on the AFSC website at General findings of the panel noted the advances made in implementation and validation of economic data collection in commercial fisheries by the EDR program in collaboration with industry participants, despite significant limitations associated with survey design, recordkeeping practices, and constraints on more timely modification of survey instruments in response to data quality limitations and changing conditions in the fishery. Panel recommendations include methodological improvements in survey design and development and application of data quality standards. Recommended process improvements included improved collaboration between industry and agency personnel, and appointment of a standing technical body similar to the Council's plan development teams to be tasked with coordinating and advising in the development and implementation of best practices for economic data collection and analyses.

By Brian Garber-Yonts, Ron Felthoven, and Jean Lee

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