||Consolidation of the New England groundfish fleet has been commonly cited as a potential
consequence of the newly implemented catch share management system. However, the New
England Fisheries Management Council has yet to implement policies to protect the
interests of small-scale fishermen or to maintain geographic and fleet diversity.
Smaller fishing operations are less competitive than larger fishing corporations and
are typically the first to go when fisheries switch to catch share management. Inaction
by the Council stems from disagreements amongst members as to the extent of consolidation
resulting in the disenfranchisement of small-scale fishing interests, largely due
to a lack of data of the subject.
This masters project investigates the nature and avenues for consolidation over the
major management shifts in this fishery, characterizing how the fleet has changed
over time. A combination of resources were used to conduct this assessment including
primary and secondary sources of literature, informal interviews with key informants
in the field, and data requested from the National Marine Fisheries Service. Additionally,
policy mechanisms used elsewhere to protect fleet diversity are explored, including
accumulation limits and community quota entity programs. These mechanisms are then
incorporated into several management approaches such as the existing sector program
and Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) which are compared to determine which would
most effectively protect the continued participation of small-scale fishing interests,
resulting in fleet diversity and a more disperse geographical distribution of participants.
The results from this analysis show that the groundfish fleet in New England has consolidated
considerably over the major management shifts both as a result of direct government
attempts to reduce fleet size through vessel and permit buyouts and because of unintended
consequences of regulations, marginalizing small-scale fishermen. This study finds
that the Council should continue with the current catch share management approach
via fishing sectors, but incorporate community quota entity programs in order to assist
existing community efforts.