For decades, Gulf of Maine Fishermen have reported information about their operations and catch to NOAA as a condition of being permitted to fish in Federal waters. These reports contain a great deal of data about what, where and when various ocean resources have been encountered in the Gulf of Maine and about what volumes of various species were landed and sold.
In addition, NOAA captured its own data through its Observer program. The Observer data is more comprehensive but covers only a percentage of total operations. Although NOAA has said repeatedly that it uses this data, it does not consider it truthful or reliable. Nor does it fit well into their own Survey Data, since it covers different geography and timeframes which are selected by the expert Fishermen to maximize their chances of an economically viable catch. Thus, Fishermen’s reports of large numbers of fish are not used to either question or to adjust their stock assessment model.
Additionally, this data is “confidential” and so cannot be accessed in the most detailed format without the specific permission of the Fishermen for each vessel – over a thousand different vessels are currently licensed, with several times that number having operated in the 1960s.
Gomora is seeking permission from Fishermen for use of their data in the construction of a comprehensive fishery operations history for the Western Gulf of Maine that will constitute scientifically reliable data for the quantities of fish encountered and landed with their locations and time of year. We expect to be able to build a dynamic model of GOM fisheries stock movements, growth, and shrinkage for the past few decades, with scientifically acceptable indicators of stock levels in the Gomora area.
Gulf of Maine Fishermen wishing to provide permission for Gomora to retrieve their data from NOAA should go HERE to download the NOAA Data Waiver Form. Fill it out and email it back to Data@gomora.org.