A cost-effective discards-proportional at-sea monitoring allocation scheme for the groundfish fishery in New England
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A cost-effective discards-proportional at-sea monitoring allocation scheme for the groundfish fishery in New England

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  • Journal Title:
    Marine Policy
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    Discards can account for a large proportion of a fishery’s total catch and have a significant impact on the condition of stocks, so many fisheries implement management measures to estimate discards, including at-sea monitors. Currently, at-sea monitors for the United States Northeast multispecies (groundfish) fishery, located in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, are allocated to meet a 30% coefficient of variation (CV30) standard to estimate the discards of 22 groundfish stocks by sector, gear type, and broad stock area on a trip basis. CV30 is a relative standard deviation precision measurement that deploys observers at an equal coverage rate across strata, regardless of their volume of landings or discards. As a result, at-sea monitors have not been cost-effectively allocated to observe the majority of the catches and discards or the catches and discards of highly utilized stocks to ensure accurate accounting of annual catch entitlement (ACE) utilization. Although some sectors and gear types are responsible for a relatively large percentage of landings and discards, they are allocated observers at the same coverage level as those that discard less. This has resulted in a disparity between monitoring effort and groundfish landings and discards, and the incentive to reduce discards is now misaligned with the utilization of ACE. Given that at-sea monitoring funding is limited and that the industry will soon have to bear this cost, this analysis proposes a discards-proportional observer allocation scheme that weights stocks with high ACE utilization rates more heavily. Results show that, in FY 2013, this allocation method could have reduced observer sea days by 1892 days, resulting in a $1.3 million total cost savings for the industry, while still observing the same amount of weighted discards as under current monitoring standards. This proposed approach could also provide an incentive to reduce discards for sectors faced with disproportionate and daunting at-sea monitoring costs.
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    Marine Policy, 66: 75-82
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