NPFMC Decision Limits Sources for Crab Economic Data Reporting

Federal fisheries manager have made a final decision on collection of crab fishery economic data reports, one that leaves out use of crew contracts and settlement sheets as part of the data.

The decision reached by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at its February meeting in Seattle to approve a modified version of alternative 3 for EDR data collection came after extensive testimony.

Those opposed to use of crew contracts and settlement sheets expressed concern for possible accidental disclosure of personal crew information, and the cost and time involved in collecting these forms of data.

Among them was Mark Gleason, executive director of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, who said his group wanted to limit data collection to that which can be reported by the industry and can be done at a reasonable cost. Gleason expressed particular concern over what he said would be the tremendous cost and possibility of errors and accidental disclosure of personal information if crew contracts and settlement sheets were used.

Shawn Doctermann, a veteran fisherman from Kodiak and head of the Crewmen’s Association, said he had 170 signatures of crewmembers who supported using information on crew contracts and settlement sheets. “You can call any of them and ask them if they would like to see their contracts and settlement sheets collected,” he said.

The council’s scientific and statistical committee noted in its recommendations to the council that the crab rationalization program initiated by congressional action and elaborated by the council was expressly framed as a social contract between the public and those private individuals and entities that were recipients of substantial economic value, embodied in tradable individual fishing quota and individual processor quota access guarantees.

“That social contract was founded partly on exchanging privately held access privileges for detailed proprietary economic data with which to understand the changes caused by rationalization (i.e. quasi-rents, shares markets, crew compensation, community stability and welfare effects, wealth consolidation, behavioral changes in fishing and processing practices and behaviors, net welfare changes to the nation).

“The alternatives under consideration by the council seem to represent a retreat from the balance struck in this contract,” the SSC said.