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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

The Utility of Daily Fishing Logbook Data for Fisheries Management in Alaska 

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July-Sept 2012
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Mandatory daily fishing logbooks provide a potentially valuable source of at-sea catch and effort information in Alaska. However, their utility to fishery scientists and managers is limited since logbooks are neither verified for accuracy nor digitized to make them readily available. While fishery observers from the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program monitor a portion of trips made by groundfish vessels > 60 feet in length and all trips made by vessels > 125 feet in length, vessels < 60 feet in length or using jig or troll gear or fishing for Pacific halibut are generally not subject to observer coverage. For the unobserved portion of the fleet, essential information on the spatial distribution of hauls, haul-specific weight estimates, daily discard estimates, transit time to and from the fishing grounds, days inactive, and crew size information (prior to the implementation of eLandings in 2007) is lacking. Furthermore, because vessels 60-124 feet in length choose which of their trips are observed, estimates of discarded catch or fishing effort on observed trips may be different than that of unobserved trips. Logbook data would provide a key source of information to examine whether the location, duration, and catch of fishers differ between observed and unobserved trips.

This study explores the current logbook system and its reporting requirements and analyzes digitized logbook data from catcher vessels participating in the 2005 Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery to determine the utility of these data to fishery scientists and managers. We compare the relative attributes and deficiencies of the digitized logbooks to observer and fish ticket data. Based on our comparisons, we suggest a replacement of the current paper logbook program with either a streamlined electronic logbook program or a vessel monitoring system with sensors to record gear deployments.  Both approaches will enable greater accuracy and spatial coverage for catch location, discard location, and effort of vessels that are not fully observed, which is the most valuable aspect of the logbook data from a research perspective. 

By Stephen Kasperski, Stephan Gmur, Alan Haynie, and Craig Faunce


Alaska Recreational Charter Boat Operator Research Development

To assess the effect of current or potential regulatory restrictions on Alaska charter boat fishing operator behavior and welfare, it is necessary to obtain a better general understanding of the charter vessel industry.  Some information useful for this purpose is already collected from existing sources, such as from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) logbook program.  However, information on vessel and crew characteristics, services offered to clients, and costs and earnings information are generally not available from existing data sources and thus must be collected directly from the industry through voluntary surveys.  In order to address the identified data gaps, AFSC researchers are conducting a survey of Alaska charter business owners.

The survey instrument collects annual costs and earnings information about charter businesses and the general business characteristics of Alaska charter boat operations.  Some specific information collected includes the following: equipment and supplies purchased by charter businesses, services offered to clients and associated sales revenues, and crew employment and pay.
Initial scoping and design of the survey was based on consultation with staff from the NMFS Alaska Regional Office, ADF&G, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and International Pacific Halibut Commission regarding analytical needs and associated data gaps and experience with collecting data from the target population. To refine the survey questions, AFSC researchers conducted focus groups with charter business owners in Homer and Seward, Alaska, in September 2011 and conducted numerous interviews in 2012 with additional Alaska charter business owners. The study was endorsed by the Alaska Charter Association, the Deep Creek Charterboat Association, and the Southeast Alaska Guides Organization.

Following OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act, the survey was fielded with the help of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission during spring  2012 to collect data for the 2011 season.  At present, the data for the 2011 season are being validated and assessed.  Once this process is complete, analysis of the data to better understand the economics of the charter boat operator sector will begin.  For example, a regional economic model will be developed using IMPLAN data (a commercially available set of data for conducting regional economic analyses) and the employment, cost, and earnings data from this survey.  The model will be used to examine the contribution or impacts of the charter boat sector on the regional economy.  The survey will be repeated in 2013 and 2014 to collect data for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, respectively.

By Brian Garber-Yonts, Dan Lew, Amber Himes, and Chang Seung

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