<Back to Table of Contents>

14 Changes in Harvest and Delivery Patterns

This chapter examines harvest and delivery patterns in the sablefish fishery both before and since the IFQ program was implemented. There are tables that show time series data which compare deliveries that occurred over the six fishing seasons from 1991 through 1996. There are also data on harvest patterns which show the number of persons who recorded landings, comparing the seasons before and after implementation of the IFQ program. Other tables show quarterly harvest data, the harvest by state of residence of the QS holder, and finally, a table that compares harvest by QS owners with harvests by hired skippers.

Tables 14-1 and 14-2 contain Alaska harvest data from 1991 through 1996 by place of delivery. The 1991 through 1994 data were developed from ADFG fish ticket data for shore based processors and NMFS Weekly Production Reports (WPR) for catcher/processors. The 1995 and 1996 data come from NMFS-RAM IFQ databases and include commercial harvests in the IFQ fishery only.1

Non-commercial catches have been excluded from all tables in this chapter. There were 308,328 pounds excluded from the 1995 data and 52,674 pounds excluded from the 1996 data. All harvests in the CDQ fisheries were also excluded.

Table 14-1 classifies 1991 to 1996 sablefish harvests based upon where the catch was delivered. Harvests attributed to WPR data sources from 1991 to 1994 were placed in the "catcher/processor" category. The remaining 1991 to 1994 harvest was classified depending upon whether the deliveries were made in Alaska or in other states.

Harvest data for 1995 and 1996 were analyzed similarly to 1991 to 1994 data even though it came from a different source. Catcher/processor harvest in 1995 and 1996 was identified from the NMFS-RAM Registered Buyers file, the ADF&G Intent to Operate file, and ADF&G fish tickets.2 The remainder of the 1995 to 1996 harvest was classified based upon whether the deliveries were made in Alaska or in other states.

Table 14-1 shows relatively small changes in delivery patterns from 1991 to 1996 with respect to the percentage of the sablefish delivered to Alaskan ports, to catcher/processors, or to ports outside Alaska. However, total harvests over the time period have declined significantly. The 1996 statewide harvest of sablefish was the smallest of any year in the time series; consequently, the pounds of sablefish delivered to Alaskan ports and catcher/processors was considerably lower than other years. Again, the 1995 and 1996 harvest totals include only commercial catch in the IFQ fishery.

Given the problematic nature of the data (the 1991-1994 blend as well as the complicated methodology of assigning the 1995 and 1996 data to a processing category), these results must necessarily be viewed with caution.

Table 14-2 breaks out the Alaskan deliveries in Table 14-1 and apportions them to reporting areas based upon Alaskan census areas or combinations of census areas.3 Again, there have been only small changes in the percentage of total sablefish delivered to these reporting areas over the time period. However, the total pounds delivered has declined in some areas as TACs and overall harvests decreased. For example, processors from the Kodiak borough received about 10.3 million pounds of sablefish during 1995, but only 8.0 million in 1996, a 2.3 million pound decrease.

Quarterly sablefish harvests are examined in Table 14-3. The number of pounds landed, number of persons with landings, and the average pounds landed are given for each area and quarter for 1995 and 1996.

Table 14-3 indicates most of the catch is landed in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of each year. Note that these periods, April through June and July through September, contain the best weather months. Also note that the Alaska sablefish season have opened on March 15 and closed on November 15, which shortened the available time to make landings in the 1st and 4th quarters.

Table 14-4 provides data on the 1995-1996 sablefish harvests by area, year, and state of residence for IFQ permit holders. Note that the IFQ permit holders in this table are the owners of the QS. In some cases, a permit holder/owner will hire a skipper to fish their IFQ for them. The harvest data in Table 14-4 are based only upon the residence of the permit holder/owner and not hired skippers.

Table 14-4 indicates the majority of the permit holders with landings in Southeast, West Yakutat, and Central Gulf were from Alaska. The majority of IFQ permit holders with landings in the Western Gulf, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands were Washington residents. Washington residents were also responsible for the majority of the pounds harvested in all areas except the Central Gulf in 1995 and Southeast in both 1995 and 1996. Residents of states other than Alaska or Washington took relatively small amounts of the harvest in each area.

In most areas, permit holders from Washington harvested a disproportionately larger share of the total catch. For example, in the Central Gulf in 1996, 32.6% of the permit holders were from Washington. These fishermen were credited with taking 50.4% of the area's harvest. One exception occurred in the Bering Sea in 1996 when Washington residents represented 54.7% of the permit holders with landings yet took only 52.9% of the catch.

Table 14-5 provides data on harvests by QS owners and hired skippers. Under the IFQ program rules, persons who hold catcher vessel QS must be on board the vessel during all fishing operations; however, exceptions to this are allowed. In all management areas except Southeast, an individual who received an initial QS allocation in the catcher vessel categories does not have to be on board the vessel and sign IFQ landing reports if that individual owns the vessel on which the halibut or sablefish IFQ are harvested, and the individual is represented on the vessel by a hired skipper.4 Because this exemption is confined to initial issuees only, the number of fishing operations where hired skippers are allowed should decrease over time as initial issuees transfer their QS holdings.

Corporations or partnerships that received an initial catcher vessel QS allocation may use their IFQ if they own the vessel on which the IFQ is fished and they are represented on the vessel by a "master", or skipper, who is an employee of the corporation or partnership. In the Southeast area the corporation or partnership can use a hired skipper to fish only those QS that were received as an initial allocation.5

In this sense, all corporations or partnerships with landings should show hired skippers on the NMFS-RAM database. However, this is not always the case. In some instances, landings records on the NMFS-RAM database show the IFQ identifier for the corporation or partnership rather than the employed "master," or skipper who ran the fishing operation and made the landing. Although it is not possible for a non-human corporate entity to actually skipper a vessel, this anomaly makes counting hired skippers on the NMFS data difficult. Therefore, the actual number of hired skippers is probably underestimated in Table 14-5.

Note that persons who hold freezer vessel QS may use hired skippers to operate the vessels and sign IFQ landing reports in any management area, and they do not have to own the vessel that's used in the fishing operation.6

A hired skipper is defined in this analysis as a person who makes a landing and signs an IFQ report for the harvest of someone else's IFQ. It is a common practice in the sablefish fishery for two or more IFQ holders to fish together and harvest each person's IFQ from a single vessel, which is usually owned by one of the partners. If each partner records their delivery using their own IFQ permit card then this does not constitute a "hired skipper" in this analysis.

The data indicate a substantial amount of the sablefish harvest was taken by hired skippers, especially in the westward management areas. The harvest percentages by operations with hired skippers were higher in 1996 than in 1995.

Note that more restrictive rules in Southeast probably kept the number of operations with hired skippers much lower than other areas. In some management areas there was a considerable change between 1995 and 1996 in the amount of harvest taken by hired skippers. The Bering Sea showed the greatest change between the two years. In 1995, 23 hired skippers in the Bering Sea were credited with taking 27.9% of the catch, but in 1996 the number of hired skippers increased to 44, and they took 70.4% of the catch.

Table 14-6 illustrates the same information as Table 14-5, except it is broken out by vessel category. The table shows that the rate of use of hired skippers and the percent of harvest taken by operations with hired skippers increases from 1995 to 1996 in nearly all vessel categories. Freezer vessels have high rates of use of hired skippers, which is likely related to the more liberal program rules for hired skippers aboard freezer vessels.

Table 14-1. Sablefish Deliveries (pounds), For Alaska, Catcher/Processors, and Other Places

Table 14-2. Sablefish Deliveries (pounds), By Alaska Place of Delivery: 1990-1996

Table 14-3. Sablefish Harvest (pounds) by Area, Year, and Quarter: 1995-1996

Table 14-4. Sablefish Harvest (pounds), by Area, Year, and State of IFQ Permit Holder: 1995-1996

Table 14-5. Sablefish Harvests by QS Owners and Hired Skippers, 1995 and 1996

Table 14-6. Sablefish Harvests by QS Owners and Hired Skippers, 1995 and 1996 by Vessel Category