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Evolution of a Business Model for New England Groundfish Sectors

When Amendment 16 regulations were finalized on April 2010, the New England groundfish fishery faced a quick transition from a days-at-sea (DAS) effort control system to output controls with fishing allocations awarded to cooperative fishing groups, known as sectors. The new sector management system induced cooperation among harvesters who formed 18 sectors across New England. This major management shift led to a complete change in business practices for the industry, leaving them little time to prepare and without the benefit of any business model to ease the transition. This situation has become more critical with impending reduction or elimination of federal funding for operational assistance and monitoring, upon which sectors rely heavily. Without these funds, sectors will need to alter practices by modifying fishing/landing behavior, changing membership fee structures, and reducing operating costs in order to remain viable businesses. 

In response to this knowledge gap, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute was contracted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) to evaluate the viability of sectors as business organizations. The overall goal of the project is to provide necessary market information, quota trading analysis, and business plans that will enhance groundfish sector viability and profitability, both for sector members and for sectors as effective organizations and their dependent communities.