The Council conducted an initial review of alternatives that could improve the usability, efficiency, and consistency of existing economic data collection programs while minimizing their cost and burden to industry and the government. EDR programs are currently implemented in four fisheries: the Crab Rationalization program, Amendment 80, GOA trawl fisheries, and the BSAI pollock fishery. The data elements collected in each EDR vary. The Council modified the purpose and need statement to note that data collection costs include not only direct and indirect cost to submitters but also management costs that are paid by industry through cost recovery fees. The Council directed staff to revise the analysis and continue evaluating whether the value that EDR collections provide to managers outweighs costs, and whether annual data submissions are necessary to achieve the EDR programs’ objectives.
The Council amended the language of one action alternative (Alternative 2) and added a second action alternative for consideration (Alternative 3). Alternative 2 is a package of revisions to EDRs that includes: (1) reducing the automatic requirement to have a third party audit EDR data, limiting the use of audits to cases of noncompliance and thus reducing costs; (2) modifying data confidentiality restrictions to make them the same as Federal fishery data regulations, making EDR data easier to include in analyses and better able to be identified to the submitter in cases of noncompliance; (3) ending the GOA trawl EDR collection that was implemented in 2015 in anticipation of a catch share program that has not transpired; and (4) a new element that would change the frequency of EDR collections from annual to every two, three, or five years. Alternative 3 would remove all requirements to submit EDR data, effectively ending the four EDR programs that currently exist.
Concurrent with this action, the Council and its Social Science Planning Team (SSPT) are engaging with fishery participants and formulating a broader strategy to assess and improve EDR collections. The Council’s goal is for EDR collections to cover the most useful, policy-relevant economic data, not necessarily to collect as much data as possible. The Council aims to limit the burden on EDR submitters to the most appropriate level by, among other means, eliminating data collections that are duplicative or do not inform management decisions. This broader EDR track was also discussed under the Council’s D6 agenda item (SSPT Interim Report). The issue will next be discussed at the SSPT’s public in-person annual meeting in May (date TBD) and at a public EDR workshop. When available, information on the workshop will be posted at: https://www.npfmc.org/committees/social-science-planning-team/.
Staff contact is Sam Cunningham.