The Council’s Social Science Planning Team was established in 2017 to facilitate and enhance the use of social science data in the management process, and operates under the following mission statement:
The Social Science Planning Team (SSPT) is established to improve the quality and application of social science data that informs management decision-making and program evaluation. The SSPT is constituted of representatives who will strategize medium- and long-term improvements in data collection and analytical methodology, allowing the NPFMC to better meet its own program objectives as well as LAPP review requirements defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Act and recommended in NMFS guidelines. The SSPT will identify data needs, make recommendations regarding research priorities, and advise analysts in efforts to improve analytical frameworks when possible. The SSPT will support the collection and aggregation of social science data in a manner that cuts across Fishery Management Plans and specific management programs within the North Pacific region.
The impetus for the development of the SSPT came from the Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) repeatedly noting that certain aspects of social science data collection and social impact analysis could be improved through efforts that occur over the medium- to long-term and that those efforts do not need to be only driven by a specific policy action or agenda item. The SSPT identifies social science and data gaps and existing information sources that are underutilized, advises on new data collection efforts that serve across multiple fishery management plans (FMPs) and limited access privilege programs (LAPPs), supports staff analysts, and consults on methodology when appropriate, focuses social science research priorities, promotes alignment of regional management priorities and Alaska Fishery Science Center (AFSC) research, and explores the feasibility and applicability of advanced analytical techniques that are outside of the time-constraints of a typical SSC meeting agenda.
SSPT members are appointed from public organizations and academic institutions having expertise in diverse social science fields such as anthropology, sociology, economics, and human geography. Normally, the SSPT will include at least one member from the Council staff, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Alaska Regional Office (AKRO), NMFS’ Alaska Fishery Science Center (AFSC), the Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Alaska Fisheries Information Network (AKFIN), and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G). The Council may also consider members who are Tribally-affiliated (defined as being nominated by a Tribe or Alaska Native organization), as well as from North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) and other agencies or institutions as appropriate.