The shift to catch shares in 2010 fundamentally altered the Northeast groundfish fishery. Stakeholders, managers, and scientists frequently discuss and debate the effects of the sector program on people, fish, local communities, and fishing businesses. Often they do so without easy, equal access to the best available data, or to impartial analyses that are suitable for non-scientists. Lack of objective information makes it difficult for supporters and opponents of catch shares to work from a shared understanding of what changes have actually occurred.
To help overcome this challenge, the Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project has developed an interactive, web-based dashboard (catchshareindicators.org) of charts, graphs, and narratives showing ecological, economic, and social trends in the fishery. In graphics and text, the data are presented as changes over time—without judgment of performance, effectiveness, or merit. The dashboard is intended to help anyone with an interest in the fishery to obtain information needed to make objective decisions.
In addition to the Northeast groundfish sector program, the five-year project focuses on the West Coast shore-based individual fishing quota program. The project team draws on information from public, academic, and private-sector sources and analyzes it to answer key questions about effects of these two catch share programs. Fishermen and fishing community stakeholders posed the questions at workshops. The Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares project is led by MRAG Americas in collaboration with AECOM, Iudicello Consulting, Northern Economics, University of Washington, and Waterview Consulting.
Website users can drill down into the data to explore changes in particular species, stocks, and communities. Charts and maps are easily shared through social media and email, embedded on other websites, and downloaded for use in presentations. Complementing the interactive tools, the reports are also downloadable as printer-friendly PDF files. The dashboard also brings together many different data sources and provides citations and links to them.
The dashboard currently presents information for a baseline period of eight years before the New England groundfish sector program began and for the initial years of the program. More charts, graphs, and analyses will be posted soon, enabling users to compare periods before and during the catch share program. Findings for each fishing year will be added on a rolling basis through 2016. Enhancements to the design and functionality of the dashboard are also in continual development.