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Evaluating the Social and Economic Performance of Northeast Fisheries

To measure the performance of US Northeast Region fisheries, the SSB initiated a process in 2009 to identify and define socio-economic performance measures. Previous monitoring occurred on an ad hoc basis, limiting opportunities for cross fishery comparisons. To identify relevant regional socio-economic performance measures, we reviewed legal requirements, management objectives, academic literature and reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on management impacts for overall commonalities. A draft set of indicators was developed and vetted by all SSB staff. Input was sought from industry leaders, the Mid Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils, staff at the NMFS Northeast Regional Office (NERO), academics and other regional NMFS social scientists. In order to integrate input from fishermen and permit holders, a number of outreach meetings were held in the field. Importantly, because crew members are typically under represented at public meetings, a contract was initiated with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to conduct extensive field interviews to integrate crew perspectives into the final set of performance measures and indicators.

The SSB performance measure initiative was motivated by a need to evaluate catch share programs, particularly the implementation of sector management in the groundfish fishery, but will be used to evaluate vessel, fleet and household earnings, along with crew well-being in all fisheries. Thus far, we have identified five areas for further inquiry - Financial Viability, Distributional Outcomes, Well-Being, Stewardship of Marine Resources and Governance.