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Oct-Nov-Dec 2006
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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Comprehensive Socioeconomic Data Collection for All Alaskan Fisheries

During the June 2006 North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) meeting, the Council tasked the NPFMC staff to develop a discussion paper on comprehensive collection of socioeconomic information from all fisheries under federal jurisdiction. That paper, written in collaboration with Economics & Social Sciences Research (ESSR) Program scientists, was presented at the October 2006 Council meeting in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and proposed a core set of cost, earnings, and community information to be collected from all sectors of the relevant fisheries. In response, the Council approved a motion requesting the AFSC to coordinate a workgroup of social science and economic analysts and researchers to further develop the discussion paper and a set of draft survey instruments to be presented at the April 2007 meeting.

The ESSR Program solicited invitations to a broad set of federal and state agency specialists to participate in the workgroup and convened a conference call to initiate the workgroup on 15 November. A candidate set of questions is currently being formulated by ESSR staff based on consultation with the working group and will be developed into draft data forms during the next quarter.

By Brian Garber-Yonts

Estimating the Value of a Community Development Quota Fishing Right

An important element of groundfish management in the U.S. North Pacific is the existence of community development quotas (CDQs), which provide community development corporations with the right to fish in a number of fisheries in Alaska. The pollock fishery is the largest of these fisheries, for which 10% of total allowable catch (TAC) is set aside for CDQs. The CDQs can be fished by the communities or as is more common in practice, they can be leased by Native corporations to vessels active in the fishery.

From 1992 to 1998, the pollock fishery was a limited entry fishery without individual quotas. After the passage of the American Fisheries Act (AFA) in 1998, the fishery was organized in a system of cooperatives that function like an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system. This system dramatically changed the usage of the CDQ right, altering it from an individual quota in a limited-access fishery to special type of quota in a quota-based fishery; the quota is special because spatial and bycatch closures that apply to all other vessels often do not apply to the CDQ fishery. Thus the CDQ right has become a “super quota” that can be used in locations and at times where regular quota cannot.

One change that has occurred since the implementation of the AFA is that CDQ rights are used almost exclusively by catcher processors. Before the AFA, some catcher vessels utilized quota before the official start of the season to find fish before the race for fish began.

During the summer of 2006, UW economics graduate student Edwin Wong worked as an intern at the AFSC to help organize data from the Alaska state and NMFS CDQ programs. We are currently examining the changing value and usage of the CDQ fishing right in the pollock fishery from 1992 to 2005. This analysis will provide insight into both the value created by quota markets and the costs of area closures. Particularly because we do not have cost information for the pollock fishery, the CDQ market provides a unique opportunity to understand the profits generated in the fishery and costs imposed by spatial regulation. In future work on this project we will also examine the more recent development of CDQ markets in other fisheries.

By Alan Haynie

BSAI Crab EDR Validation Audit

As required by the congressional authorization and NPFMC motion for the economic data collection component of BSAI crab rationalization, a detailed validation review of the information collected in the historical and 2005 annual economic data reports (EDRs) was initiated during summer 2006. The principal objective of the validation exercise is to assess and quantify the measurement error associated with the EDR instruments.

A further objective is to provide an incentive to EDR submitters to maintain accuracy and rigor in reporting cost and earnings information. As such, the validation review included both random audits, based on a statistical sample of the EDR population, and for-cause audits of EDRs identified on the basis of missing variables or outliers in reported information. The accounting firm Aldrich, Kilbride and Tatone, LLC (AKT) was selected by the Pacific States Fishery Management Commission (PSMFC) to conduct detailed audits of the EDRs submitted by vessel and processing plant owners in the BSAI crab fisheries.

In October 2006, ESSR Program staff completed a review of the EDR data and developed the analytical basis and protocols for selection of EDRs for random and for-cause audits. To improve the efficiency of the audit process, the sampling frame for the random audit was identified as the population of vessel/plant owners stratified by sector, remaining in the fishery as of June 2005. With a 15% sampling rate, the random audit sample included 33 catcher vessels, three floating or onshore processors and one catcher processor.

An additional 18 submitters were identified for for-cause audits. The selected owners were contacted by the accounting firm via phone and mail and provided with a list of variables for which substantiating information was requested. The initial deadline for submission was specified as 3 November, but given the start of the crab fishing season, more than half of those contacted requested extensions. As of 20 December, AKT was still awaiting records from most of the random and for-cause audit subjects. An audit report will be submitted by AKT to the PSMFC during second quarter 2007.

By Brian Garber-Yonts

Online Economic Data Reporting

To improve the efficiency of the BSAI Crab EDR collection, both in terms of data processing by the PSMFC and ESSR Program staff, as well as simplifying the submission of data and reducing the time burden for EDR filers, we have initiated a project to develop a web-based EDR. A request for proposal (RFP) was released by the PSMFC and a contractor selected to develop the database and web interface in December. The online EDR is expected to be operational for the 2006-07 crab EDR data collection period beginning in April 2007. The online crab EDR will serve as a template for development of further social and economic data collection initiatives pending approval by the Council.

By Brian Garber-Yonts

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