The transition to annual catch allocations and communal accountability in the groundfish industry has been a difficult one. As fishermen adapt, the dialogue has shifted from whether sectors are a good management approach to how to make the system work effectively. In order to improve the profitability and viability of the groundfish fleet and community, fishermen need to understand how to utilize their catch allocation to best advantage, in order to position their landings in the marketplace for maximum value.
The business profiles created through this project allowed sectors to forecast probable operational costs and income levels, as well as offering strategies to deal with budget shortfalls, declining income, and impending monitoring costs. The study highlighted the need to analyze landings by sector, including cost-benefit analysis of trading catch allocation, lost income through unutilized allocation, or landing at inopportune times in terms of market. As a result of this project, sector managers had more complete information to make informed business decisions. GMRI plans to continue conversations around administrative and operational efficiency, both with individual sectors and with the Northeast Sector Services Network. It is important that fishermen understand how their combined landings affect price and the strategies for dealing with volatile prices—such as diversification of their landings and timing of their allocation trading. Catch allocation leasing and marketing strategies could help both small- and large-scale fishermen; however, the majority of the fleet is small-scale and will count on the ability of the sector to coordinate the combined landings to be successful.