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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Improving the Usefulness of Logbook Data in the North Pacific Groundfish Fisheries

ESSR researchers Stephen Kasperski, Alan Haynie, and Stephen Gmur, along with Craig Faunce (FMA Division) have nearly completed their research on how the paper logbook system could be improved to aid fisheries management in the North Pacific.

Mandatory daily fishing logbooks provide a potentially valuable source of at-sea catch and effort information. However, their utility to fishery scientists and managers is limited since the logbooks are neither verified for accuracy nor digitized to make them readily available.

While fishery observers from the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program monitor activities of groundfish vessels > 60 ft in length, the majority of catcher vessels lack complete observer coverage.

The National Marine Fisheries Service lacks information on the spatial distribution of hauls, haul-specific weight estimates, daily discard estimates, days steaming to and from the fishing grounds, days inactive, and crew size information (prior to the implementation of eLandings in 2007) for trips that are not observed. Also, because vessels 60-124 ft in length choose which of their trips are observed, it is possible that they fish differently when unobserved. The logbook data are a key source of data that can be used to examine whether observed and unobserved trips differ.

This study explores the current logbook system and its reporting requirements and uses digitized logbook data from catcher vessels participating in the 2005 Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery to analyze the utility of this data to fishery scientists and managers.

We compare the digitized logbooks to observer and fish ticket data to analyze the relative attributes and deficiencies of each dataset. We find that reported discards are statistically significantly lower on unobserved trips than on observed trips in both the fish ticket and logbook data. Unobserved trips are also found to be statistically significantly shorter than observed trips, while the number of hauls per trip, average haul duration, and target species are not statistically significantly different on observed and unobserved trips for these vessels. We also find some evidence to suggest that the spatial pattern of harvests on observed and unobserved trips differ.

As the spatial pattern of harvest and discards vary between observed and unobserved trips, the logbook data can provide some value for fishery managers if the data were available. Therefore, we suggest the replacement of the current paper logbook program with an expansion of the electronic logbook program (eLogbook). The eLogbook program currently is used only in the catcher-processor pollock fleet but could be effectively expanded to other fisheries in conjunction with their current eLandings reporting.

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

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