Economics & Social Sciences

Social and economic information describing commercial and recreational fisheries is critical to effective fisheries management. It can provide information on the economic and cultural value of a fishery, the well-being of stakeholders, or the socioeconomic tradeoffs of management actions. Economic information can include prices, costs, market dynamics, economic performance, and economic impacts. Social information can include demographics, individual and community well-being, community dynamics, and cultural importance. Fisheries socioeconomic data and analyses can be both quantitative and qualitative.

Coastwide socioeconomic data are often limited to prices, total ex-vessel values, and fishery participation information. Additional information may be found in one-off studies or individual state data collection programs. However, the limited spatial and temporal nature of such information is often not conducive to the coastwide analysis needed for management. Although data availability presents challenges, the Commission has been working to increase the use of existing social and economic information when making fishery management decisions.

Efforts to expand the use of socioeconomic information are guided by the Commission’s Committee on Economics and Social Sciences (CESS). The CESS is composed of state, federal and university economists and social scientists. They provide socioeconomic technical guidance to both the Interstate Fisheries Management Program (ISFMP) and the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP). The CESS’ duties include:

  • Providing socioeconomic support to ASMFC species technical committees and plan development teams , including developing socioeconomic sections of fishery management plans and documents
  • Providing social and economic advice, information, and policy recommendations at the request of species management boards or the Policy Board
  • Recommending studies to better understand socioeconomic issues related to fisheries management
  • Developing technical guidance on social and economic data collection
  • Establishing subcommittees or work groups to address other socioeconomic-related issues as needed

Accomplishments of the CESS include:

  • Contributing social and economic information to Commission fishery management plans and amendments
  • Conducting educational seminars for fisheries managers to improve the usefulness of social and economic information
  • Evaluation of methods to directly link economic data into biological stock assessments (bioeconomic modeling)
  • Development of policy issue papers to assist fisheries managers in making decisions on issues such as individual transferable quotas and cumulative effects of season closures, and
  • Development of the ACCSP social and economic data standards, including priority socioeconomic data elements for coastwide collection.