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Resource Ecology & Fisheries Management (REFM) Division

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

Comprehensive Data Collection on Fishing Dependence of Alaska Communities

Much of the existing economic data about Alaskan fisheries is collected and organized around different units of analysis, such as counties (boroughs), fishing firms, vessels, sectors, and gear groups. It is often difficult to aggregate or disaggregate these data for analysis at the individual community or regional level. In addition, at present, some relevant community-level economic data simply are not collected at all. As a result, the NPFMC, the AFSC, and community stakeholder organizations have identified ongoing collection of community-level socio-economic information as a priority. The purpose of this project is to build on existing data and respond to this priority by gathering information about individual community involvement in fishing that is currently lacking and limits the ability of regulators to effectively analyze the potential impacts of fisheries management decisions at the community level. These data will aid scientists and NPFMC staff in better understanding Alaskan communities' social and economic ties to the fishing industry. These data also will facilitate the analysis of potential impacts of catch share programs and coastal and marine spatial planning efforts as they are more fully implemented as U.S. federal fisheries management tools.

To implement this project, the Alaska Community Survey was developed and implemented during summer 2011. Surveys were sent to community leaders in 181 fishing communities. As of the end of September 2011, surveys for 111 communities have been returned, representing a response rate of 61.3%. The information collected in the survey included time series data, information on community revenues based in the fisheries economy, population fluctuations, fisheries infrastructure available in the community, support sector business operations in the community, community participation in fisheries management, and effects of fisheries management decisions on the community. Over the coming months, attempts will be made to retrieve completed surveys from the remaining 70 communities. The data received from the surveys will be used to update the Community Profiles for North Pacific Fisheries – Alaska (NOAA Tech Memo NMFS-AFSC-160) and to provide summary statistics on fishing communities throughout different regions of Alaska.

By Amber Himes-Cornell

Why Economics Matters for Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on Fisheries

Research which attempts to predict the effect of climate change on fisheries often neglects to consider how harvesters respond to changing economic, institutional, and environmental conditions, which leads to the overly simplistic prediction of "fisheries follow fish." However, the climate effects on fisheries can be complex because they occur through physical, biological, and economic mechanisms that interact or may not be well understood. While most find it obvious to include physical and biological factors in predicting effects of climate change on fisheries, the behavior of fish harvesters also matters for these predictions. We present a general but succinct conceptual framework for investigating the effects of climate change on fisheries that incorporates the biological and economic factors that determine how fisheries operate. While the uncertainty surrounding long-term projections is inherent in the complexity of the system, the use of this framework will result in more complete, reliable, and relevant investigations of the effect of climate change on fisheries.

By Alan C. Haynie and Lisa Pfeiffer

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