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Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Background
Introduction
Methods
Results
Discussion
Summary
Acknowledgements
References Cited

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 11-09

Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology 3-year Review Report 2011 - Part 1

by SE Wigley, J Blaylock, PJ Rago, J Tang, HL Haas, and G Shield
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543

Web version posted June 8, 2011

Citation: Wigley SE, Blaylock J, Rago PJ, Tang J, Haas HL, and Shield G. 2011. Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology 3-year Review Report 2011- Part 1. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc. 11-09; 285 p. Available from: National Marine Fisheries Service, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026, or online at http://nefsc.noaa.gov/publications/

Information Quality Act Compliance: In accordance with section 515 of Public Law 106-554, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center completed both technical and policy reviews for this report. These predissemination reviews are on file at the NEFSC Editorial Office.

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Executive Summary

The Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) Omnibus Amendment to the fishery management plans of the Northeast region was implemented in February 2008 to address the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to include standardized bycatch reporting methodology in all FMPs of the New England Fishery Management Council and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This report is a comprehensive 3-year summary of the discard and landings data that have supported the allocation of at-sea observers in the Northeast since April 2009. The SBRM uses the previous year’s information on the precision of estimated discard totals to define sampling targets for an upcoming year.

The SBRM can be viewed as the combination of sampling design, data collection procedures and analyses used to estimate bycatch and allocate observer coverage in multiple fisheries. The SBRM provides a structured approach for evaluating the efficacy of the allocation of observer coverage (sea days) to multiple fisheries (52 fleets) to monitor a large number of species (15 SBRM species groups) under the 13 different fishery management plans, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The SBRM is not intended to be the definitive document on the estimation methods nor is it a compendium of discard rates and total discards (Wigley et al. 2007).  Instead, the SBRM is intended to support the application of multiple bycatch estimation methods that can be used in specific stock assessments. The SBRM provides a general structure for defining fisheries into homogeneous groups and allocating observer coverage based on prior information and the expected improvement in overall performance of the program. The general structure helps identify gaps in existing coverage, similarities among groups that allow for realistic imputation, and the tradeoffs associated with coverage levels for different species. The SBRM allows for continuous improvement in allocation as new information on the results of the previous year’s data is obtained.  

The SBRM Omnibus Amendment requires annual consultations with the Councils and public to summarize observed discard rates in the preceding year and more importantly to review and refine plans for monitoring commercial fishing fleets in the upcoming year. This annual cycle is synchronized with the availability of previous years’ data (July to June), time to acquire and audit data (July-September), sufficient time to conduct the statistical analyses (October-December), annual Council meetings (January-April), and the normal federal budget and contracting cycle.

The SBRM also requires a more comprehensive 3-year report that has two basic requirements: (1) annual estimates of discard totals and (2) a review of the overall efficacy of the sampling design. This report summarizes part one of that 3-year requirement and reviews the annual information presented in SBRM reports for years 2009, 2010, and 2011 with regard to the recent levels of observer coverage and observed encounters with species. This report also presents estimates of total discards and their associated precision for SBRM species groups and the individual species comprising these groups, by fleet and SBRM year.

The Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR) databases are used to define the size of the sample and the size of the strata, respectively. The NEFOP and VTR data summarized in this report include data collected from July 2007 through June 2010.

The annual number of NEFOP trips and sea days and the annual number of VTR trips and sea days are summarized by fleet and SBRM year. The percent coverage of trips, summed over all fleets, ranged between 2% and 3.5%; percent coverage for sea days ranged between 4.4% and 6.1%. Finer scale coverage rates vary among fleet and SBRM year. The highest coverage (>50% in terms of trips) occurred in the Industry-funded scallop dredge access area fleets. The majority of fleets have less than 10% coverage of trips, sea days, or landings. It should be noted that percent coverage is only one measure for monitoring adequacy, and that precision of the discard estimates is the specified metric for monitoring adequacy within SBRM.

For all NEFOP trips, observed catch quantities (kept and/or discarded) were summed for each species/species group and SBRM year and for each species/species group, fleet, and SBRM year. The NEFOP has recorded 311 unique species by weight and 42 species by numbers over the 3-year period from July 2007 to June 2010.  The SBRM species groups represent approximately 90% of the total weight of all species recorded by NEFOP observers.  The percentage of trips that encountered a species group/species by fleet and SBRM year are summarized. In general, the percentage of trips encountering a species group/species varied across region and fleet; however, the percentages across SBRM years were similar and indicate persistent fleet/species group interactions. The skate complex, large-mesh groundfish, and monkfish were the three most frequently encountered species groups on NEFOP trips.  Sea turtles were recorded in 10 fleets during the July 2007 through June 2010 period. The majority of encounters were reported in MA fleets, and the majority of encounters were loggerhead turtles.

To estimate total annual discards and precision, a combined d/k ratio estimator was used where d = discard pounds of a given species and k = kept pounds of all species. The VTR landings of all species combined, corresponding to each fleet and SBRM year were used to expand the discard rate to estimate total discard weight of each SBRM species/species group, fleet and SBRM year.

Based on these analyses, spiny dogfish and the skate complex had the highest (greater than 60%) percentage of discards of the 14 SBRM species groups. In SBRM 2010, red crab also experienced high discards (exceeded 60%) when both New England (NE) and Mid-Atlantic (MA) red crab pot fleets were observed. In SBRM 2009, only the MA red crab pot fleet was observed and in SBRM 2011 neither the MA nor NE red crab pot fleets were observed. Due to regulations prohibiting possession of female red crabs, discarding is expected to be higher in these directed red crab pot fleets than for other SBRM species and other fleets without such regulations. Red crab discards did occur in other fleets, most notably in the NE large-mesh otter trawl. The majority of SBRM species groups had discard percentages that were less than 25%. For several individual species, such as yellowtail flounder and halibut, the percentages of discards were high (greater than 37%) due to regulatory reasons (trip limits), while for other individual species, such as ocean pout, windowpane flounder, and red hake, the percentage of discards were high (generally greater than 50%) due to no or low market demand coupled with regulatory reasons (no possession) in fishing year 2010. The percentage of butterfish discards was high (greater than 70%) in the MA and NE small-mesh otter trawl fleets in SBRM 2010 and SBRM 2011.

With regard to precision of the discard estimates, many of the species groups/species in the scallop Industry-funded fleets have coefficients of variation (CVs) below 30%. The numbers of observer sea days in the scallop fleets are based on the total fraction of landed value allocated to discard monitoring and the daily compensation rate. The compensation rate is designed to avoid biases that might arise if vessels avoided observers at low compensation rates and vice versa at high compensation rates. Realized coverage rates generally exceed the SBRM standard sea days. Additionally, most of the species group/species in the NE large-mesh otter trawl have precision estimates below 30% CV due to the increased monitoring of NE groundfish fleets as part of the coverage for special access programs and, more recently, for Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies fishery management plan. Conversely, many of the species groups/species in MA and NE small-mesh otter trawl fleets have precision estimates at or above the SBRM standard of 30% CV due to constraints of available funds that prevent sea days from being allocated to these fleets. None of the precision estimates for the sea turtle species group in the 3 SBRM years were less than 30% CV.

The annual SBRM sea day analyses were conducted to estimate the number of baseline trips and sea days needed to monitor the 15 species groups in each fleet for each SBRM year. The number of trips and sea days needed to achieve a given precision level was based on the variance of the total discard estimate for a species group. The use of an importance filter is a key feature to the SBRM in that it focuses the sampling to fleets where it is needed most and is not wasted on small imprecisely estimated discards. The SBRM sea day standard (numbers of sea days needed to achieve a 30% CV for all SBRM species groups within a fleet) and the prioritized funded sea days by fleet and SBRM year are presented. In each of the 3 years, the sum of the SBRM standard sea days exceeded the total funding for sea days. The shortfall in funding invoked the SBRM consultation and prioritization process which resulted in prioritized sea days.

This report highlights the comprehensive data collection program of the NEFOP and that SBRM covers the majority of species encountered by commercial fleets as well as the discarded weight associated with these species. When prioritizing fleets, low encounters and low magnitude of discards of important/critical species can be considered. The precision (CV) of the discard estimates for SBRM species groups and the individual species that were considered important varied by species groups/species, fleet, and SBRM year. For the 14 SBRM species groups in the 3 SBRM years, 89 of the 128 precision estimates (70%) were less than or equal to 30% CV.

The annual SBRM reporting process provides a process and a structure to summarize the Northeast region’s at-sea monitoring program, describes the methodology used in the estimation of discards, and specifies the deployment of observers to achieve observer coverage that will yield discard estimates with the desired level of precision through a transparent process that include consideration of Councils’ priorities and public comment.

The Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology represents one of the most comprehensive programs for planning and executing observer monitoring coverage of federally managed fisheries. The first 3 years of the program, summarized in this report, illustrate the utility of the approach for monitoring discards in these fisheries and the real-world limitations of implementing an ideal system. Variations in the overall magnitude of funding, constraints on the uses of funding, and competing objectives among fishery management plans are some of the factors that impede attainment of the overall target level of precision.

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

ACE = annual catch entitlements
CV = coefficient of variation
d/k = discard/kept
FMP = fishery management plan
MA = Mid-Atlantic
MAFMC = Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council
MRIP = Marine Recreational Information Program
MRFSS = Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistical Survey
NE = New England
NEFMC = New England Fishery Management Council
NEFOP = Northeast Fisheries Observer Program
NEFSC = Northeast Fisheries Science Center
NERO = (NMFS) Northeast Regional Office
NMFS = National Marine Fisheries Service
NRCC = Northeast Regional Coordinating Council
SBRM = Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology
SE = standard error
TAC = total allowable catch
VTR = Vessel Trip Report

Background

SBRM Omnibus Amendment

The Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) Omnibus Amendment to the fishery management plans (FMPs) of the Northeast Region (NEFMC 2007; NMFS 2008) was implemented in February 2008 to address the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to include standardized bycatch reporting methodology in all FMPs of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC).

The SBRM can be viewed as the combination of sampling design, data collection procedures and analyses used to estimate bycatch and allocate observer coverage in multiple fisheries. The SBRM provides a structured approach for evaluating the efficacy of the allocation of observer coverage (sea days) to multiple fisheries to monitor a large number of species under the 13 different fishery management plans, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The SBRM is not intended to be the definitive document on the estimation methods nor is it a compendium of discard rates and total discards (Wigley et al. 2007).  Instead, the SBRM is intended to support the application of multiple bycatch estimation methods that can be used in specific stock assessments. The SBRM provides a general structure for defining fisheries into homogeneous groups and allocating observer coverage based on prior information and the expected improvement in overall performance of the program. The general structure helps identify gaps in existing coverage, similarities among groups that allow for realistic imputation, and the tradeoffs associated with coverage levels for different species. The SBRM allows for continuous improvement in allocation as new information on the results of the previous year’s data are obtained.

The SBRM requires annual consultations with the Councils and public to summarize observed discard rates in the preceding year and more importantly to review and refine plans for monitoring commercial fishing fleets in the upcoming year. As part of this review the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and Northeast Regional Office (NERO) prepare a large data summary report and deliver an initial report on proposed observer coverage rates. These reports, delivered at the first Council meetings in the calendar year, are followed by a comment period, and a revised observer allocation plan. A revised observer coverage plan is delivered to the Northeast Regional Coordinating Committee (NRCC) at their spring meetings. This annual cycle is synchronized with the availability of data, the annual Council meetings, and the normal federal budget and contracting cycle.

The SBRM also requires a more comprehensive 3-year report that has two basic requirements: (1) annual estimates of discard totals, and (2) a review of the overall efficacy of the sampling design (a full description 3-year report is given below). This report summarizes part one of that 3-year requirement. The second task will be completed in early fall of 2011.

Review of Annual SBRM Reporting Process

To utilize the most recent available data, the annual SBRM analyses use data collected during a 12-month period from July through June. Generally, Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) data are audited and available for analysis 90 days after collection; hence these data are ready to be analyzed beginning in October.  During October to January, annual analyses are performed; these include: (1) summarizing the NEFOP data for the Annual Discard Report, (2) updating the sea day analysis to derive SBRM standard sea days (the sea days needed to achieve a 30% coefficient of variation, CV, and (3) prioritizing sea days based on a preliminary budget. The Annual Discard Report and the Sea Day Analysis and Prioritization document are posted on-line [1] and presented to the Councils.  A comment period follows. The NEFOP budget is generally known by March and a finalized sea day schedule that considers Council comments is developed for a 12-month period ranging from April through March. A document summarizing the comments, the final funded sea days, and the re-prioritized sea days is prepared concurrently with the NEFOP sea day schedule in April/May and is presented to the NRCC. Annual SBRM reports have been completed for 2009, 2010, and 2011. A summary of the annual reporting cycle is given below.

 Annual SBRM Reporting Cycle

SBRM 2009

SBRM 2010

SBRM 2011

Data Used (12-month period)

Jul 2007 - Jun 2008

Jul 2008 - Jun 2009

Jul 2009 - Jun 2010

Data Analysis and Document Preparation

Oct 2008 - Jan 2009

Oct 2009 - Jan 2010

Nov 2010 - Jan 2011

Annual Report, Sea Day Analysis, and Prioritization documents available;

Presentation to NEFMC and MAFMC;

Prioritization Comment Period;

Final Budget received, Consideration of Comments, Re-prioritization

Jan 2009 – Mar 2009

Jan 2010 – Mar 2010

Jan 2011 – Mar 2011

Response to Comments and Re-prioritization document to NRCC

Apr

2009

May

2010

Apr    2011

NEFOP Sea Day Schedule (12 month period)

Apr 2009 - Mar 2010

Apr 2010 - Mar 2011

Apr 2011 - Mar 2012


 

The SBRM annual information is documented in the following reports:

The SBRM annual documents are available on-line at: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/fsb/SBRM/

Summary statistics from the annual SBRM 2009 (July 2007 through June 2008), SBRM 2010 (July 2008 through June 2009), and SBRM 2011(July 2009 through June 2010) documents are given in the table below.

 Summary Statistics

SBRM 2009

SBRM 2010

SBRM 2011

Number of Fleets

44

51

52

Fleets with Pilot[2] coverage

24

28

30

Baseline Sea Days

54,631

51,252

52,651

SBRM Standard Sea Days

15,125

14,147

19,507

Funded Sea Days

6,161

14,375

13,904

Sea Day Shortfall

-7,746

*

-5,603

Final Funded Sea Days

6,283

13,950

14,004

Number of Fleets with Sea Days

17

30

32

* Sea day shortfall existed in some fleets due to funding constraints.

Changes between SBRM 2009, 2010, 2011 Annual Reports

During the 3 SBRM years, the following changes have occurred regarding the SBRM annual reports and analysis:

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