Ocean Planning in the Northeast

Website for the Northeast Regional Planning Body Northeast RPB Projects Commercial Fishing

Commercial Fishing and Ocean Planning

As commercial fishing in New England changes, the need for better information, including traditional knowledge, is important. Understanding where and when commercial fishing happens, and how that picture is changing, can lead to improved decisions and help reduce conflicts among new and traditional ocean uses.

To help enhance that understanding, a project to map commercial fisheries in New England began in 2012. Starting with existing data available for certain fisheries, map products were developed and discussed with the fishing industry, scientists, and managers. A project report summarizes the results of this initial phase, and work will continue to produce more complete information.

This work led to a second phase, which began in 2014, and included:

  • VMS maps: adding additional years from 2011-2014, separation of fishing from vessel transit using vessel speed calculations, and incorporating spatial fishery management measures such as closed areas;
  • Comparison of map results from various federally available data sources;
  • Investigating the best, regionally consistent source of information to map lobster fishing activity;
  • Pilot testing an electronic catch and location reporting device for party / charter vessels.

Fishing Community Participation

Fishing industry participation is key to this project’s success. For this reason, the project is designed as a partnership with the fishing industry, scientists, and managers. Between August 2012 and April 2015, the project team held more than 65 gatherings throughout New England to obtain advice and input for developing maps of commercial fishing activity, and to discuss ocean planning in general. Forums for these meetings have included fishing sector/community meetings, New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Management Commission meetings, state fisheries agencies, one-on-one conversations, and events such as the Maine Fishermen’s Forum and the New Bedford Waterfront Festival.

Key Highlights/Takeaways

  • Developed a series of maps showing use of the ocean by certain fisheries, relying on existing data (such as Vessel Monitoring System information). Vessel speed calculations from VMS data were produced to distinguish between fishing and vessel transit.
  • Met with hundreds of fishermen, managers, and scientists throughout New England to discuss the draft maps and the overall ocean planning effort.
  • Produced a report summarizing Phase I of the project (through the summer of 2013) and providing recommendations for Phase II (through 2014)—Final Report (PDF) (66pp, 2.2M), Appendices B-C (PDF) (38pp, 14.7M), Appendices D-G (PDF) (17pp, 1.5M).
  • Produced a report summarizing Phase II of the project—Phase II Final Report (PDF) (37pp, 3.0M), Phase II Appendices (PDF) (19pp, 17.0M).
  • VMS and VTR derived maps can be used to show regional fishing patterns for fisheries. It is important to recognize the strengths and limitations of different mapping techniques and data sources and, depending on the specific interest and issue, to use other methods to best characterize commercial fishing patterns in New England.
  • Engagement of the fishing industry, managers, scientists, and the public is critical to map development and understanding.
  • For certain federally-managed fisheries, published VMS-derived maps on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal.
  • The eTrips electronic reporting device for reporting catch and location of party / charter vessels has much potential to accurately characterize party / charter fishing in New England. This would require widespread use of the device regionally.

Next Steps

  • Incorporate maps into Regional Ocean Plan being develop by the Regional Planning Body (RPB)
  • Continue to publish and update maps with appropriate descriptions and caveats on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal.

Northeast RPB News

November 15 Northeast RPB Data Workshop Remote Access Webinar Available

November 14, 2017— Webinar available for remote access to November 15 RPB Data Workshop.

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Ocean Planning Timeline

  • November 2012 Inaugural Northeast RPB Meeting: Develop common understanding about the RPB; provide context and lay foundation of regional ocean planning; engage stakeholders and the public, discuss initial focus.
    April 2013 Northeast RPB Meeting: Northeast RPB Meeting: Identify draft goals for regional ocean planning and mechanisms for receiving public input about those draft goals; provide opportunities for public input about topics under consideration.
    May/June 2013 Public Comment Meetings: Ten public meetings throughout New England to discuss draft regional ocean planning goals.
  • January Northeast RPB Meeting: approve goals and objectives; move forward on related tasks.
    May/June Public Engagement: Natural Resources Workshops and focused engagement to discuss progress toward goals of effective Decision-Making and Healthy Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems.
    June Northeast RPB Meeting: Review progress toward all goals.
    Fall Public meetings/workshops and Northeast RPB meeting: Feedback on progress toward each goal.
  • Spring Stakeholder Forum: Review progress on the use of marine life and ocean use data, regulatory coordination, and future scenario development.
    June Northeast RPB Meeting: Review approach to developing draft plan by considering agency use of ocean plan data products; discuss draft outline for regional ocean plan.
    Fall Northeast RPB meeting and public meetings: Review revised products for each goal; discuss future work of the RPB.
  • Winter EBM Working Group: Review progress on Draft Northeast Ocean Plan, marine life and habitat data product development, including IEAs Framework.
    Spring Northeast RPB Meeting (via webinar): Release Draft Plan for public review.
    Summer Collect public comment on the Draft Plan through public meetings and other opportunities.
    Fall September public webinar to review changes to the Draft Plan and October submittal of revised Plan to the National Ocean Council.
  • Winter Northeast RPB members and federal principals of the National Ocean Council sign Plan Adoption Memo.
    Spring See Events and Meetings
    April Informational webinar to prepare for stakeholder forum.
    May Stakeholder forum and RPB public meeting.

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