What is the current socioeconomic status of North Coast fishing communities? How have commercial fishermen perceived and been affected by the new MPAs? How have the no-fishing zones shifted their fishing effort? Have their catches gone up or down and can recent trends in species targeted and their landings be attributed to the new regulations? These are among the types of questions that will be addressed in this socioeconomic study, a collaboration with local fishermen and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The project’s main goals are to 1) to establish a baseline socioeconomic characterization of the North Coast fishing communities including demographics, historical context, fishing patterns, perceptions of management, and economic involvement, and 2) to assess where fishermen were fishing before and after the MPAs went into effect in 2012 and related socioeconomic implications of these shifts in fishing effort and resulting catches. The data for this analysis will come from survey interviews with over 150 commercial and charter fishermen, focus group discussions with fishermen in each of the five major ports and analysis of logbook and landings records. Among the outcomes from this project will be “heat maps” showing coastal areas of high importance to commercial fishermen before and after the MPAs’ implementation. The lead scientists and fishermen will also look to develop recommendations for long-term socioeconomic monitoring. Results of this study will provide a better understanding of the status of the region’s fishing communities against which future MPA impacts and benefits can be measured. To facilitate meaningful collaboration with the fishing community, this project has incorporated a fisherman’s advisory council of representatives from each of the major ports to guide us in study design, data collection, and data interpretation.
Baseline Characterization of Human Uses and the Socioeconomic Dimensions of MPAs