A Comparison of Groundfish Management on the East and West Coasts of the United States

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Strader, Rachel


Kirby-Smith, William

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The groundfish fisheries of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the US are valuable economically and ecologically. The industries in the two locations have faced depleted stocks and increased regulations by the New England and Pacific Fishery Management Councils over the years. Both fisheries contain a varied array of demersal fish in separate ecosystem contexts, and similar gear types are used in both locations. However, the community and geographical structures, composition and interactions of the Fishery Management Councils, industry organization, and activism create a different historical perspective with which to view management failures and successes. In New England, factors such as a greater value of independence, a lack of cooperation and coordination between stakeholders and scientists, and a longer history of fishery decline have contributed to the current management climate. The Pacific groundfishery has experienced a more recent illumination of overexploitation, but there is a longer history of cooperation between states, fishermen, and scientists. In addition, differences in the Pacific Fishery Management Council structure and process have created a distinct management picture. The management measures enacted by the two councils since the implementation of the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act have differed, but neither has been successful—as evidenced by overexploited stocks. Recently, both fisheries management plans have undergone changes in response to the declines and subsequent lawsuits by stakeholder groups. From comparing the characteristics of the two council systems, their methods, and their participants, important lessons can be learned as fisheries management on both sides of the US continues, out of necessity, to evolve.


Master's project


Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences




Fisheries, Groundfish, Management, Coastal, United States of America (USA), Magnuson-Steven Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), Pacific Fishery Management Council, New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC)



Strader, Rachel (2004). A Comparison of Groundfish Management on the East and West Coasts of the United States. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/252.

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