The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has announced a five-year, $2.7 million grant to MRAG Americas, a research consulting firm based in St. Petersburg, Florida, to provide objective, publicly available assessments of New England and Pacific groundfish catch share systems on an annual basis.
The grant will enable MRAG to assemble teams of scientists and researchers to evaluate the performance of catch share systems put in place over the past two years, including groundfish sector management in New England and the Individual Transferable Quota program for the Pacific trawl groundfish fishery. Assessment indicators include ecological, economic, social/governance, and program design measures.
Findings from the assessments will be compared to projected results as well as goals from a pre-implementation baseline. Researchers also will synthesize indicators collected through other efforts, releasing annual reports and a final report on the work at the end of the project in five years. The results will be used to guide ongoing improvements to the systems and inform catch share systems in other regions.
"We have international examples and research that demonstrate the ecological, economic, and social benefits of catch shares," said Barry Gold, program director for the foundation's marine conservation initiative. "Now we have an exciting opportunity to measure the performance of these new management systems as they are implemented on the water. With high quality and highly objective evaluations of the performance of catch shares over the next five years, we will learn whether or not these systems are working as intended, and we can use that information, if needed, to mitigate unwanted consequences and ensure these systems work for fishermen and the ecosystems."