W3004: Marketing, Trade, and Management of Aquaculture and Fishery Resources

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

W3004: Marketing, Trade, and Management of Aquaculture and Fishery Resources

Duration: 10/01/2014 to 09/30/2019

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Aquaculture and capture fisheries provide a significant source of protein and economic activity for people in the United States and other countries. In addition to pond, tank, cage, and raceway production, aquaculture broadly interacts with capture fisheries by providing hatchery-raised fish and shellfish that are released into the wild to enhance or rebuild wild stock populations, thereby providing support for both commercial and recreational fisheries (NOAA Fisheries 2012). Capture fisheries also interact with aquaculture products in exchange markets, regulatory environments, and economic development activities. The importance of the multifaceted relationship between aquaculture and capture fisheries suggests a need for reliable economic studies of these two critical resources, especially as management, regulatory, and market demands change over time.

This proposed revision to multistate project W2004 outlines a study of the marketing, trade, and management issues found in various aquaculture and fishery resources. New tasks will be undertaken under the four interrelated areas outlined in the previous W2004 project: 1) marketing, niches and new products; 2) production for dynamic markets; 3) regulatory influences on sector development; and 4) assessing infrastructure and industry organization. Four cross-cutting themes integrate the project objectives: 1) analysis of emerging and innovative technologies; 2) roles of property and stakeholder rights; 3) spatial organization of management, markets and infrastructure; and 4) market coordination and integration. Conducting the proposed work within a multistate framework will facilitate the examination of important stakeholder issues by bringing together experts from across the country, thus avoiding duplication of effort in the design and implementation of research studies. In doing so, the project will continue to create and maintain the human capital infrastructure of the previous W2004 project and provide a scientific resource that can respond to emerging problems in this resource sector.

The remainder of this section briefly describes the issues and justification for each of the main areas of research to be conducted under the project.

Marketing, Niches, and New Products

The last three decades witnessed the globalization of trade in seafood products. World exports of fishery products equaled approximately $23 billion in 1986 and had increased to $97 billion by 2009 (FAO 2013). Much of the increase in seafood trade was fostered by advances in worldwide aquaculture production. U.S. imports of seafood products during this period increased from about $5 billion to $13 billion and had reached $17 billion by 2012 (NOAA 2013), with many of these imports competing directly with the U.S. capture fisheries (e.g., salmon, pollock and shrimp) and aquaculture (e.g., catfish and crawfish) sectors. In many instances, this competition resulted in declining real dockside prices for the nation’s domestically-produced products and a gradual erosion of economic activity in the harvesting and supporting sectors. Many rural U.S. communities that depend on the production of captured and farmed aquatic products are at a crossroad because of this expanded globalization. Eventually, participants in this sector must respond to global competition and adopt new methods and frontier technologies with the goals of sector rejuvenation and economic security in a changing marketplace.

To meet the challenges ahead, these communities and the small to mid-size companies that support them must innovate by developing new products favored by end-users, position products in market niches that increase market penetration, and/or communicate with end-users to maximize the perceived value of the product. Thus, information concerning product distribution and flow, end-user preferences and perception, pricing, processing methods and technology, packaging, and institutional and structural arrangements in the supply chain is needed to ensure marketing success and the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture assets.

Production for Dynamic Markets

Rapidly changing prices and business opportunities have led to increasing economic stress and uncertainty concerning the future direction of aquaculture and fisheries production in the U.S. If these industries are to survive, research must focus on improving efficiency and competitiveness. Many aquatic species exhibit inter- and intra-annual changes in physiological characteristics which significantly influence consumer and producer welfare. To remain competitive, U.S. aquaculture producers need to continually improve production efficiencies in order to maximize the financial benefits that can be extracted from their managed production operations, all the while doing so in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. For capture fisheries, it is essential to design regulations and management systems that both maximize the market-related economic benefits derived from the resource and reward well-managed fisheries. Research that integrates both temporal and spatial characteristics of aquaculture and capture fisheries production can be an effective way of evaluating policy options and illuminate the important mechanisms operating between fish-based resources and their respective industries and markets.

Another factor influencing production is the way in which sector growth and changing international markets have affected the trade of fish products. Optimized production practices and breakthroughs in biotechnology research have resulted in declining costs of production for most aquaculture species at a time when many traditional commercial fisheries face increasing resource exploitation, overcapitalization, and marketing infrastructure constraints. Given that these trends are expected to continue, an increasingly dynamic aquaculture sector is likely to erode the competitiveness of traditional fishery products, resulting in a need to devise strategies that will help the traditional fisheries sector adjust to the changing market scenarios. Only by carefully managing the quality and quantity of aquaculture and capture fishery production, both from a temporal and spatial perspective, will the U.S. achieve the national and regional objectives of economic efficiency, full utilization, and stock conservation.

Regulatory Influences on Sector Development

The collapse of many wild fish stocks in the U.S. and the world has led to significant changes in both commercial fisheries and aquaculture. In many parts of the world, capture fisheries management has gradually transitioned from council-based direct management systems to stakeholder rights-based systems that, although managed by councils, utilize market forces to allocate resources. These market-based systems, which dominate management in Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia, are increasingly being used in U.S. fisheries. Meanwhile, world aquaculture production experienced dramatic expansion as it filled the gap between seafood demand and the capture fishery supply, increasing over sevenfold between 1985 and 2011 and by a factor of 90 in some developing countries (FAO 2013). While some developed countries like Norway have kept pace with this rapid growth, the U.S. aquaculture industry stagnated even as it became the major supplier of technology, feed, and investment for the industry in other countries.

At least three questions arise from the changes experienced in fisheries and aquaculture over the last 20 years. First, are the rights-based systems being used in some U.S. fisheries working better than regulated open access, and how should this evaluation be measured? Many of these market-oriented systems are relatively new in the U.S. and will be undergoing mandated reviews in the near future. As federal fisheries managers conduct these reviews, the role of market institutions, the value of rights, methods for exchanging fisheries assets and the impacts of rights-based systems on fish stock, product marketing and the welfare of coastal communities are all critical areas requiring analysis. Secondly, what is the economic relationship between capture fisheries and aquaculture, both in the U.S. and the world? Aquaculture has clearly arisen as a mature world industry, but it is still in relative infancy in the U.S. Investigating the economic and regulatory reasons for the lack of development in the U.S. industry can potentially lead to changes that enhance industry viability. At the same time, it is important to evaluate the role aquaculture can play in the management of capture fisheries and the welfare of the coastal communities that have historically relied on the sea. Lastly, how can U.S. aquaculture modernize and take advantage of new technologies, both from traditional and sustainable production perspectives, while at the same time competing in global markets? Answers to this question not only lay in understanding traditional market fundamentals and trade relationships, but also in evaluating the role various national policies have on industry viability.

Assessing Infrastructure and Industry Organization

Because they are biologically-based and often located in coastal zones, the ports, working waterfronts and communities that are dependent on fisheries and aquaculture are susceptible to shocks, ranging from environmental events to more persistent changes in markets and consumer preferences. For example, hurricanes have recently and severely damaged the livelihoods of commercial and recreational fishers along the northern Gulf of Mexico. During and after these storm events, saltwater intrusion, power interruptions, and chaotic markets have also disrupted aquaculture production and marketing. Although less dramatic than storms, harvest limitations, industry consolidation, depreciating infrastructure, and changing economic and regulatory landscape constantly force coastal communities to evaluate the maintenance and revitalization efforts for their waterfronts. In particular, changing consumer product requirements, especially with regard to safety, quality and traceability, demand new and innovative industry practices. Coping with any of these shocks requires detailed information about the effected industries, including the location and quality of support infrastructure, status of product quality, and viability of the communities in which industry participants work and live.

Related, Current and Previous Work

This section briefly describes the accomplishments of the previous W2004 multistate project as they relate to each of the project’s four objectives. A current CRIS search revealed few related projects and no evidence of potential duplication with the proposed revision.

Objective 1 – Marketing, Niches, and New Products: Improve the development of seafood markets by focusing on analyses of new marketing themes, market niches, and alternative seafood products.

Participants in W2004 conducted studies involving the marketing and development of seafood products, examining issues such as labeling requirements for product safety and traceability (Ropicki et al. 2010) and the impacts of ecolabeling on prices, price premiums and price elasticities. The ecolabeling analyses, in particular, are being actively used by industry and policy makers to determine if the benefits of developing stewardship labeling outweigh the often significant costs (Roheim et al. 2011a). Beyond the general concept of ecolabeling, project participants found that actual and potential contamination of seafood products poses significant challenges. Dedah et al. (2011) estimated an IAIDS model for oysters, with results indicating that the imposition of mandatory health warning labels on Gulf of Mexico oysters had a significant impact on consumer preferences. Roheim et al. (2011b) conducted a study on the impact of information on health benefits and risks on the consumers’ preference for farmed seafood. One of the objectives of this study was to elicit consumers’ understanding of health risks and benefits from consuming seafood, discriminating between the consumption of farmed fish and wild seafood. The authors found that there is a considerable lack of unbiased and objective knowledge on seafood attributes, making it difficult for consumers to balance health risks and benefits. Based on these findings, the authors developed an experimental auction on health risks and benefits of seafood consumption. Information was adopted from published sources and varied in terms of the emphasis on risks versus benefits and the level of details such as whether “salmon” was differentiated between wild-caught and farmed. Surveys were administered both before and after the auction to elicit participants’ perceptions on farmed seafood. The data analysis is currently underway.

W2004 participants also studied the supply and demand characteristics of various aquacultured and wild-caught seafood products in the U.S. A number of these studies employed scanner data to examine the demand for seafood products in the U.S. retail market (Nguyen et al. 2013; Chidmi et al. 2012a; 2012b; Gallardo et al. 2012). Other studies generated preferences and willingness-to-pay data that can be used by the seafood industry to brand and market both aquaculture and wild-caught products to a variety of consumers (Davidson et al. 2012).

Research examining the relationship of domestic and imported seafood products using both primary and secondary data is currently ongoing, noting in particular that declines in the domestic shrimp processing industry are closely linked to increased competition from imports (Keithly and Poudel 2008). Work also continues on the analysis of market trends affecting the global farmed shrimp industry, with the forecasting of world farmed shrimp production for planning and management purposes being an ongoing part of the project (Anderson and Valderrama 2013a; 2013b; Valderrama and Anderson 2012).

Objective 2 – Production for Dynamic Markets: Enhance fishery and aquaculture production by developing decision support tools to integrate management and marketing.

The W2004 project had a number of activities focused on providing the necessary decision-making tools that would allow producers and harvesters to efficiently and profitably manage their enterprises. Working within an interdisciplinary setting, Yu et al. (2009) developed a practical model for optimal scheduling of shrimp partial harvesting using the network-flow approach. A decision support system implementing the practical model has been developed using MS EXCEL (Kam et al. 2008; Yu et al. 2010). As forecasting growth bears great significance for any aquaculture enterprise, Yu and Leung (2010) demonstrated that a Bayesian hierarchical model can be a good alternative when observations are limited. Recognizing that changes in seasonal factors are inherent in many aquacultural production systems, Yu and Leung (2009) also developed a general framework for determining optimal harvest time in continuous aquacultural operations.

A recent study conducted for the census years 1997, 2002, and 2007 evaluated the production cost structure, profitability and efficiency of the entire aquaculture industry and subsectors in Hawaii. The study revealed a wide variation in performance across farms, even within the same subsectors (Naomosa et al. 2013). In 2007, 57.6% of the aquafarms generated a profit; however 39.4% of the farms were found unable to cover their variable cash expenses. The presence of significant economies of scales was detected with full-time operations being more profitable and efficient than part-time operations. Finally, Hawaii’s labor cost share for aquaculture enterprises was found to be about 3.5 times greater than in the continental United States.

W2004 researchers have also evaluated the competitiveness of domestic and international aquaculture enterprises. In addition to investigating the reasons behind the recent decline of the U.S. catfish industry, which include lower import fish prices, increasing domestic feed/fuel prices, inefficiencies in U.S. catfish production, and inconsistencies in domestically produced products, Hanson et al. (2013) and Hanson (2012) evaluated modern agribusiness strategies to improve the overall competitiveness of the sector. On the other hand, Valderrama et al. (2013) conducted a cross-country comparison of the seaweed farming sectors in Asia, Africa and Latin America, making specific recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the activity and enhance socio-economic benefits for producers in marginal coastal communities.

From the perspective of capture fisheries, Gardner et al. (2013) and Larkin et al. (2011) discuss how bioeconomic models can be employed to guide formulation of management policies, using the U.S. striped bass, Canadian North Atlantic cod, Australian northern prawn, lobster, and Norwegian spring spawning herring fisheries as case studies. Economic assessments were conducted for the for-hire fishing fleets of the South Atlantic states (Holland et al. 2012), the 2011 Florida Bass Federation Tournament (Larkin et al. 2012); artificial reef use in six southwest Florida counties (Swett et al. 2011), and the Connecticut commercial lobster industry (Pomeroy et al. 2010). In addition, Valderrama and Anderson (2013; 2010) developed an econometric model to study the market interactions between Alaskan salmon fisheries and the global salmon farming sector. The model documented the gradual loss of competitiveness of Alaskan salmon fisheries vis-à-vis salmon aquaculture over the last two decades and highlighted the need to introduce rights-based approaches to fisheries management in order to restore some of the rents lost to competition with the farming sector.

Objective 3 – Regulatory Influences on Sector Development: Increase the organizational and institutional efficiency of the aquaculture and fishery sectors by analyzing the regulatory environment and developing ideas to support the sectors.

Aquaculture remains a controversial issue in the U.S. The regulatory environment facing aquaculture in the U.S. directly influences the sector’s growth and competitiveness. This regulatory environment is shaped to a large extent by the support provided to U.S. aquaculture by its various stakeholders. Using data collected from an online survey, Chu et al. (2010) compared the perceptional differences of aquaculture stakeholders in the U.S. and Norway and investigated how their perceptions influence their decisions to support aquaculture development. Based on multinomial logit models, all of the perception variables were found to contribute significantly to the likelihood that an aquaculture stakeholder is willing to support aquaculture expansion. These findings provide useful information for U.S. and Norwegian aquaculture policymakers, regulators, and stakeholders regarding how perceptions influence decisions, the key perceptional differences between the U.S and Norway, and how policies, practices, and education could change perceptions of aquaculture stakeholders and thereby the future of U.S. aquaculture.

Given the crises in many U.S. and world fisheries, there is an urgent need to assess the biological and socioeconomic performance of fisheries and critically evaluate alternative management schemes. In cooperation with The World Bank, W2004 participants continued to develop and implement on a global scale fishery performance indicators as a mechanism to estimate the wealth generated by individual fisheries and to evaluate and prioritize projects under The World Bank’s Global Program on Fisheries – PROFISH (Chu et al. 2012).

W2004 participants conducted a number of projects aimed at understanding the factors that lead to successful community-based management of fishery stocks. Ratner et al. (2012) examined the challenges of small-scale fisheries co-management in the Philippines and Vietnam. Using the Rhode Island fluke fishery’s pilot sector (catch share) program implemented in 2009 as a case study, Anderson and Uchida (forthcoming) analyzed the behavior of fishermen under different management schemes: those who participated in the pilot program received individual quotas while all others operated under the common-pool scheme. The researchers provided a quasi-continuous time experimental environment with a contemporaneous price externality and explored the effort timing behavior of harvesters under the two management regimes. Consistent with Nash equilibrium expectations, common-pool-managed subjects raced to fish, exerting high levels of effort to secure landings but selling at correspondingly low prices. On the other hand, individual-quota-managed subjects held effort back until the common pool fishery closed and used their quota over the balance of the season at a lower level of landings, receiving higher prices in turn. After experiencing both management options, subjects selected the individual quotas system by a 3:1 margin. These results suggest that different kinds of management regimes may emerge over time and perhaps be dynamic in nature, and that there may be some form of an evolutionary selection process for regulatory institutions.

The economic outcomes of RI fluke pilot catch share program were analyzed by Scheld et al. (2013). This study examined whether or not program participants gained from the pilot program and (perhaps more importantly) whether or not non-participants were negatively affected by the pilot program. The pilot program was found to increase fleetwide revenues by over $800,000, including benefits of over $250,000 to non-participating vessels. The analysis has been expanded to the northeast catch share program (known as Amendment 16) and is currently ongoing.

W2004 participants also focused on improving the design of rights-based fishery management programs. Singh and Weninger (2012a, 2012b, 2012c) analyzed the economic performance of individual fishing quota-based regulations under production uncertainty in various contexts. Evans and Weninger (forthcoming) derived equilibrium information acquisition and sharing strategies in fishing cooperatives. Valcu and Weninger (2013) identified conditions under which individual transferable fishing quota management programs will and will not achieve optimal economic rent outcomes. In turn, Uchida et al. (2012) and Wilen et al. (2012) evaluated the economic performance of Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs). W2004 participants also evaluated the economic impacts of fishing regulations and certification programs: Weninger and Perruso (2013) developed a spatial temporal model of fishing behavior in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery that can be used to measure the economic effects of spatial closure policies and species-specific regulations such as closures and trip limits; Ran et al. (2011) examined location choice behavior of Gulf of Mexico shrimpers; Morgan et al. (2010) examined the economic impacts of alternative regulatory scenarios on the Florida fresh half-shell oyster industry; while Norden et al. (2010) assessed the impacts of MSC certification on management of the New Zealand hoki and orange roughy fisheries.

Important work has also been pursued with regard to the development and implementation of ecosystem approaches to fisheries and aquaculture management around the world (Pomeroy et al. 2013; Heenan et al. 2013; Diana et al. 2013; Muawanah et al. forthcoming; Muawanah et al. 2012; Pomeroy 2012; Wilen and Wilen 2012; Daw et al. 2011). W2004 researchers have also investigated the potential and socioeconomic implications of marine protected areas (MPAs), which have recently gained popularity as a management tool for the rebuilding of overfished stocks (Fox et al. 2012; Warner and Pomeroy 2012a; 2012b). In collaboration with the Massachussetts Fishermen’s Partnership (an industry group based in Gloucester, MA), W2004 participants are currently analyzing the impact of an MPA (the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary) on fish stock levels, fleet behavior, and local fishing communities by marrying a biological metapopulation model and a spatially dynamic economic behavior model. Surveys of groundfish day-boat fishermen in the Gloucester and South Shore areas of Massachussetts have been conducted to solicit information about fishing operations and links to other businesses (forward and backward linkages). The results are being used to simulate the impact of proposed area closures (MPAs) on landings and on the broader community economy.

W2004 participants have long indicated the challenges posed by economic illiteracy in the fishing industry and in the fisheries regulatory development process. To partially counteract this trend, an Internet-based, distance education course entitled The Economics of Fish was designed and is currently being taught out of the University of Alaska. The course is expected to assist the fishing and aquaculture sectors to improve both firm-level and policy-related decision making. The University of Alaska also led an online survey to elicit information on future training and employment opportunities for aquacultural and fisheries economists. In addition, W2004 economists co-authored a policy paper on the need to correct the fished or farmed dichotomy surrounding much of seafood production (Klinger et al. 2012). Contrary to popular perception, many types of seafood are produced by enterprises using a combination of techniques traditionally ascribed to either fisheries or aquaculture. Categorizing seafood as either fished or farmed obfuscates the growth potential and environmental impacts of global seafood production. In order to better capture seafood data, the authors advise national and international record-keeping organizations to add a new hybrid category for seafood produced using both fisheries and aquaculture methods.

Objective 4 – Assessing Infrastructure and Industry Organization: Improve the understanding of how infrastructure investment, location, and sector organization affects the stability of both the aquaculture and capture fishery industries.

Savolainen et al. (2012) led a socio-economic study on the recreational for-hire fishing industry in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (Texas, Luisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Florida), which provided an insightful glimpse into the business and policy workings of the sector. The report compiled and analyzed data for three vessel classes: head boats, charter boats and guide boats. Among the most interesting findings were the differences by vessel class in regard to current and pending management policies: head boat operations were found to be more tolerant of regulations requiring federal observers, mandatory reporting, limited entry and electronic vessel monitoring. Catch share management, however, was generally opposed by operators of all vessel classes. Because survey administration paralleled events of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill, data was examined for evidence of recall bias. These assessments attempted to predict when surveys were completed by examining respondent, operating, and financial characteristics. Evidence of recall bias was not found, and no adjustments were made to financial data (Savolainen et al. 2013a). Survey data were also used to estimate financial resiliency of firms to natural disasters (Savolainen et al. 2013b).


  1. Improve the development of seafood markets by focusing on analyses of new marketing themes, market niches, and alternative seafood products
  2. Enhance fishery and aquaculture production by developing decision support tools to integrate management and marketing
  3. Increase the organizational and institutional efficiency of the aquaculture and fishery sectors by analyzing the regulatory environment and developing ideas to support the sectors
  4. ;Improve the understanding of how infrastructure investment, location, and sector organization affects the stability of both the aquaculture and capture fishery industries.


Each objective above will be addressed by project participants through specific research tasks. Issues and methods associated with each of these tasks are provided below. Objective 1: Marketing, Niches, and New Products Task 1-1: Preferences for Seafood Product Attributes, Including Certification and Labeling Consumers are inundated with information regarding the attributes of the seafood they consume, with only some of this information being based on scientifically valid studies. In addition, small volume aquaculture and fishery operations may have difficulty in discovering and reacting to the demands of consumers for specific product attributes, either because of the lack of scientifically valid data or because of the high transaction costs of acquiring the needed information. Attributes related to handling, storability, consistency of supply, and sustainability can influence the purchasing decisions of both middle-market and retail buyers, and thus influence the viability of harvesters and producers. This task will provide information needed to improve coordination of product supply and demand at all levels of the marketing chain. Two projects will be undertaken within this task: 1) In order to reach new consumers, food industries and food science departments continue to test new products or variations of existing products for acceptability. While acceptability and product differentiability are useful aspects for which to test, products must also be profitable to be adopted. An additional cost may be faced when dealing with variations of existing products, so consumers must be willing to pay a premium above the existing product’s price. This project will examine in a laboratory setting consumers’ willingness-to-pay for seafood products exhibiting a variety of attributes. Early trials have focused on salt-acclimated prawns as substantial research on aquaculture growout and consumer acceptability for this product has already been conducted by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture along with the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health at Mississippi State University. The project will be expanded to cover other seafood products. Mississippi will lead the efforts to accomplish this project. 2) The Midwest region has no marine or saltwater resources; therefore seafood products from these saline sources need to be shipped over long distances from the coasts making them relatively expensive. However, a study of shoppers’ attitudes regarding seafood expenditure patterns on live seafood in the Midwest suggested that purchase of saltwater finfish, shellfish, quality assurance, and high incomes were significant factors that influenced higher seafood expenditures by Midwestern seafood shoppers (Quagrainie et al. 2011). This suggests a potential market for striped bass, a marine fish. In a study of potential consumer interest in Indiana aquaculture products, Quagrainie et al (2008) reported that there was an 18% probability that consumers would be “somewhat interested”, a 58% probability that consumers would be “interested”, and a 24% probability that consumers would be “strongly interested” in purchasing Indiana farm-raised aquaculture products. Consumers who expressed willingness to purchase Indiana aquaculture products were those who had previously purchased aquaculture products and those who frequently consumed seafood at home. This study would assess the consumer acceptance and potential demand for a regionally grown marine species – the striped bass – and how much consumers would be willing to pay for this product. The analysis will also include an assessment of marketing costs associated with the sale of live saline fish as striped bass. Indiana will lead the efforts to accomplish this project. Task 1-2: Cost Earnings Analysis of the Direct Marketing of Seafood Given the economic pressures and the advent of direct marketing alternatives, there is a need for targeted research of the cost and returns of this option. For example: what are the costs and revenues associated with direct marketing? Will fishing vessels that engage in direct marketing have additional costs in labor, dock time and public relations? In addition, how will the anticipated differences in seafood sale prices, wholesale vs. direct marketing, affect revenue? These factors and others must be examined to yield sufficient knowledge of the profitability of direct marketing. More specifically, this project proposes to examine the net income potential associated with direct marketing of shrimp from coastal Louisiana. Specific objectives include: 1) to construct a cost-earnings budget generator for examining the feasibility of direct marketing of shrimp by the Louisiana shrimp harvest sector under various scenarios of scale, vessel type and location; 2) to statistically parameterize key input variables through a survey of inshore and offshore shrimp harvesters in order to refine the cost-earnings budget developed in objective 1; 3) to examine direct marketing demand characteristics through a survey of shrimp consumers in order to aid the development of benefit estimates (price frequency, characteristics of product); and 4) to integrate objectives 1-3 into a firm level decision tool to inform direct marketing investments and operations and examine potential net returns under a range of hypothetical scenarios. The project could potentially be expanded to examine direct marketing of alternate species in different locations, e.g., striped bass in the Midwest as explained in task 1-1-2). Louisiana will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Task 1-3: Fisheries and Aquaculture Supply and Demand Analysis, Including Price Forecasting As the structure of the U.S. seafood industry and the socioeconomic characteristics of households change over time, one can expect dynamic changes in the supply, consumption, and pricing of the species consumed and their product forms. An empirical analysis of household seafood demand, producer supply, and ultimately the prices that emerge in markets can be used to (a) forecast changes in product species and composition that will likely be forthcoming over time and (b) develop appropriate marketing programs. Despite their potential benefits, empirical studies of retail/away-from-home U.S. seafood demand are still rare. To improve and expand on this past work, this task will utilize data collected as part of the NOAA Fisheries Seafood Consumption Survey as well as other data sources to empirically estimate household demand. Models will then be used to help forecast industry prices and trends, the effects of anticipated macroeconomic factors, and the impacts of proposed policy initiatives. A number of aquaculture and capture fishery species will be targeted in this effort, including (but not limited to) salmon, shrimp, tilapia and catfish. Louisiana will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Task 1-4: Estimating the Interactions between Imported Aquaculture Products and Capture Fishery and Domestic Aquaculture Products in the U.S. Seafood Market The primary focus of this task is to understand the extent to which imported aquaculture products interact with U.S. capture fisheries and aquaculture products in the U.S. seafood market. Two key questions exist: will imports of aquaculture products – especially those from China, Vietnam, and Thailand – eventually marginalize the U.S. capture fisheries and aquaculture products in the U.S. seafood market? How much of a premium, if any, do U.S. captured fisheries and aquaculture products possess in the U.S. seafood market? Answers to these questions will inform the domestic capture fisheries and aquaculture industries as to how imported aquaculture species substitute for their products, and which strategies are needed for the U.S. industries to remain competitive in today’s dynamic seafood market. To address these issues, we will first characterize the market substitution effects of the capture fishery and domestic aquaculture products for imported aquaculture products of shrimp, hard clams and oysters. Next, we will identify the comparative advantages of the U.S. capture fisheries and aquaculture products versus Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai aquaculture products (shrimp, hard clams, oysters) consumed in the U.S. seafood market by analyzing their cost structures, including the impacts from evolving supply chains. These results will be used to forecast the total supplies over a ten-year time horizon based on the cost structure of production. The forecasted supplies and estimated substitution effects will be incorporated into a model designed to evaluate the impact of imports on the prices of U.S. capture fisheries and aquaculture products. Finally, we will outline specific recommendations aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the domestic fisheries and aquaculture industries in the evolving seafood market place. Two states (Louisiana and Connecticut) will work together to accomplish this task. Objective 2: Production for Dynamic Markets Task 2-1: Analyzing and Improving the Firm-level Feasibility, Efficiency, and Management of Aquaculture Production This task focuses on four aquaculture species/systems; aquaponics, oysters, shrimp and scallops. 1) Aquaponics, the symbiotic integration of aquaculture and hydroponics, has been touted as a potential industry in moving Hawaii and elsewhere towards food security with a sustainable farming technology that has a minimal environmental impact. However, existing literature and reports do not reflect a consistent view concerning the economic viability of commercial aquaponic enterprises. Thus, it is imperative to assess the economics and financial viability of this relatively new industry immediately so as to guide current and potential investors to make further investments. Economic assessments will be conducted for both small and large scale systems as well as different operating systems presently in use. A generalized, user-friendly spreadsheet module will also be developed so as to allow existing and potential aquaponic operators to readily assess the economics of aquaponic production systems. Hawaii will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. 2) Hawaii has long been the only state where bivalve shellfish growout and sales have not been legal but as of June 2012, the Hawaii State Department of Health has rectified this gap and has begun the process of classifying shellfish growing areas. Development of a bivalve shellfish industry is now underway, offering opportunities to diversify and expand local food production. Several small-scale farms based at traditional Hawaiian fishponds have been established and several open-water culture efforts are being planned. All these outfits are operating in a vacuum of rigorous information on production costs associated with different production models. Moreover, consumer preferences and prices are even less known. Now that the legal and biological basis for shellfish culture has been firmly established, research on the economic feasibility of shellfish production systems appropriate to Hawaii is required to ensure industry development is expeditious and profitable. The proposed work will develop production models to assist oyster farmers in production-optimizing strategies and to aid in decision-making related to marketing and buyer preferences. In addition, since depuration is required for shellfish harvested from “restricted” areas, the economic feasibility of land-based depuration centers will be evaluated. Hawaii and Alaska will work together to accomplish this task. 3) Over the last three decades shrimp farming evolved from traditional, small-scale businesses in Southeast Asia into an organized industry scattered through all tropical regions in the world. Along with expanding production volumes came increased criticism from environmental organizations on the ecological impacts of farm production practices. By the late 1990s, these concerns had led to generally stronger regulation by governments and the promotion of Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as improvements in the siting and design of farms, reduced water exchange and improved feed and disease management. This project will evaluate the development of consensus indicators of sustainability and the economics of BMPs adoption in the Indian shrimp farming industry. India provides an excellent opportunity to analyze the economic trade-offs associated with BMP implementation as the industry is poised to grow exponentially in the next few years due to favorable geographic and socio-economic conditions and the recent shift from the farming of native species to the faster-growing Penaeus vannamei. Farm and industry-level economic models will be developed to examine the optimal selection of production practices under a number of social and environmental constraints. The project will provide guidance to policy-makers and aquaculture stakeholders on the most advisable paths for ordained growth of the industry. Florida will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. 4) The culture of mollusk species has acquired great importance worldwide with production increasing at a very rapid pace over the last 30 years. Although not much development has taken place in the Caribbean basin yet, interest has recently emerged on the scallop species Argopecten nucleus and Nodipecten nodosus given their potential for commercial aquaculture production. Captures of wild juveniles in artificial collectors and seed production by public hatcheries recently led to the establishment of farmed stocks in the Colombian Caribbean. Despite this progress, factors such as the highly variable output from hatcheries, barriers to technology transfer and the lack of information on financial and marketing aspects stand as obstacles for the development of an aquaculture industry in the country. In order to assess the true potential of scallop aquaculture in the region, this project aims to develop an economic model for the hatchery and growout phases of an aquaculture operation based on data provided by public hatcheries in Colombia. Another goal of the project is to examine the socio-economic characteristics of local communities of fishermen interested in undertaking scallop aquaculture as an alternative to declining artisanal fisheries. The success of scallop aquaculture in Colombia could offer a blueprint for the farming of native scallop species in the wider Caribbean basin as a viable economic alternative to support the livelihoods of marginal coastal communities in the region. Florida will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Task 2-2: Analyzing Emerging Community-based and Sector Management in the U.S. Fisheries Harvesters generally have better information about a fishery than do managers, and may achieve better management outcomes if incentives are correctly structured. Two subprojects will be implemented to provide support to community-based management systems: 1) institutional and economic research on co-managed fisheries will be conducted in the Eastern Gulf of Maine region where U.S. fisheries are co-managed on an ecosystem basis by a collaboration of federal and state government, scientists and local fishermen. Connecticut will lead the efforts to accomplish this task; 2) as fisheries management and marine governance have become more collaborative and thus seek input from stakeholders, it is important to understand and address the diversity of those stakeholders. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires that “the national fishery conservation and management program…involves, and is responsive to the needs of, interested and affected States and citizens” (NOAA Fisheries 2013). Fishery communities in the Gulf of Mexico include diverse racial and ethnic groups, increasing numbers of women fishers, as well as a variety of different commercial fishery industries. This subproject seeks to gather baseline data on this diversity and the different marine governance needs, priorities, and participation of the diverse stakeholders. Pilot studies will be conducted in Mississippi and Alabama and then be extended to additional states. Mississippi will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Objective 3: Regulatory Influences on Sector Development Task 3-1: Analysis of Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPP) The development of LAPP fisheries, including Individual Fish Quota (IFQ) programs, creates opportunities for generating and sharing fishery rents. However, a major concern when LAPPS and catch shares are introduced to a region is the impact they may have on alternative fisheries and coastal communities. This is particularly critical since port and fishery infrastructure may reach tipping points where they can no longer support smaller fleets due to consolidation and reorganization of fishing fleets. In addition, catch shares may have indirect effects on other fisheries due to the unintended impacts of the catch shares on markets for fishery rights. They may also set in motion new rights structures in order to compete effectively with catch share systems. This study will evaluate the impact of new catch shares in Oregon by 1) interviewing fishing community organizations; 2) quantitatively estimating changes in fleet structure per coastal port; 3) evaluating changes in key infrastructure; and 4) evaluating changes in harvest levels and market prices. Oregon will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Task 3-2: Improving the Economics of Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management Traditional fisheries management approaches have been designed and implemented in the context of a single species, or in isolated sectors of ecological and economic systems. When regulations do not account for ecological and economic linkages present in marine systems, well-intentioned regulatory actions often lead to unintended and undesirable consequences. Academic researchers and government agencies have recently pushed for the adoption of a more holistic approach to the management and regulation of marine fisheries, an approach referred to as ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). This task will advance EBFM by integrating ecological models and knowledge of multiple-species interaction with flexible and robust models of economic behavior and activity. The work will examine dynamic tradeoffs, ecological and economic uncertainty, multiple-species harvesting behaviors such as targeting and discards, spatial heterogeneity, among other factors. The approach is to develop structural ecological-economic models that characterize and quantify the impacts of various regulatory actions, e.g., tradable fishing quotas, area or seasonal closures, intended to address management goals. The task will provide an interactive assessment tool that can be used to quantify the economic impacts of regulation, prior to its implementation. The methodology will be developed for, and calibrated to the Gulf of Mexico commercial and recreational reef fish fishery. Extensions to other fisheries will follow. Iowa will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. A related subproject will examine the impacts of climate and ocean change on fisheries. More specifically, this work will develop guidance on how the potential impacts of climate and ocean change can be integrated into the fisheries management planning process in the U.S. Pacific Islands. Connecticut will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Objective 4: Assessing Infrastructure and Industry Organization Task 4-1: Updating Information on the Impacts of Change Events on the Structure and Economic Status of the Commercial and Recreational Fishing and Aquaculture Industry Because they are biologically-based and located in coastal zones, the commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture industries are susceptible to shocks, ranging from climate change to environmental events to more persistent changes in markets and consumer preferences. For example, hurricanes have recently and severely damaged the livelihoods of commercial and recreational fishers and aquaculturists along the Connecticut coast. During and after these storm events, saltwater intrusion, power interruptions, and chaotic markets have also disrupted aquaculture production and marketing. Coping with any of these shocks requires detailed information about the effected industries, including the location and quality of support infrastructure, status of product quality, and viability of the communities in which industry participants work and live. This task will conduct a vulnerability assessment on the structure and economic status of the commercial and recreational capture fishing and aquaculture industries in Connecticut. The vulnerability of coastal human communities or natural systems to climate and ocean change can be considered as the level of susceptibility to harm by events such as increased rainfall, storm damage, and sea level rise. Vulnerability is calculated by integrating three measures: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Exposure is the extent to which a system comes into contact with climate hazards, or specific climate impacts. Sensitivity is the degree to which a built, natural, or human system is negatively affected by changes in climate conditions (e.g. temperature and rainfall) or specific climate or ocean change impacts (e.g. sea level rise, increased water temperature). Adaptive capacity is the potential, capability, or ability of built, natural, and human systems to adapt to impacts of climate change and variability with minimal potential damage or cost. Thus, assessing an area’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate and ocean change involves understanding: 1) the climate projections for a given region or area, 2) what is at risk (climate change exposure and sensitivity), and 3) the capacity of the ecosystem (both natural and human) to cope with the expected or actual climate changes (adaptive capacity). Combined, these three factors define the vulnerability of people, fish, and ecosystems in a place to climate and ocean change. This task will undertake vulnerability assessments on the hard clam industry in Connecticut and the lobster fishery. The results will serve as a model for use by other states. Connecticut will be the lead state on this task. Task 4-2: Develop New Information Conveyance Mechanisms: Applications to Marketing and Bioeconomic Modeling This task will build off work in the previous W2004 project that developed a multiuse website to support science, management and marketing of West Coast fisheries and seafood products. This research resulted in a website (PacificFishTrax.com) that serves the “real time” needs of different fishery audiences, including fishermen, managers, scientists, retail, food service, consumers, and the public. The initial iteration of the website specifically targeted the West Coast salmon and albacore fisheries. In addition to mapping fishery and oceanographic data, the website is now capable of tracking bar-coded fishery products through the market distribution process including consumers, retailers, chefs and fishermen linkages. The goal of the proposed project is to complete a web portal and a traceability and marketing system that can be used by fishermen, dealers and retailers for fisheries throughout the United States and overseas. The potential to turn the website into a for-profit venture will be evaluated. In addition, the geographic growth of users of the site and the linkages between dealers and retail establishments will be monitored. A second project linking development of the website and collection of data from vessels using the FishTrax system will be implemented. Its goals will be 1) to use the spatial and temporal harvest data collected from participating vessels in the West Coast salmon fishery and develop stock-specific models of salmon movement and migration, and 2) identify how fine-scale spatial-temporal information can be used as a tool to support long term ecosystem-based West Coast ocean salmon management. Data will be analyzed to explore patterns in stock and harvester dynamics that warrant further investigation in designing dynamic spatial and temporal management tools (Smith 2002; Holland and Sutinen 2000). Data will also be used to construct a bioeconomic model of the West Coast salmon fishery linking two components: a spatially-explicit, stock-specific distribution model of the West Coast salmon population and a spatially-explicit model of harvester’s participation and fishing behavior. Oregon will lead the efforts to accomplish this task. Task 4-3: Economic valuation of offshore ocean monitoring systems for aquaculture and capture fishing industry operations, risk management, and regulation. The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) is one of a series of Regional Coastal Ocean Observing Systems which are part of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. GCOOS provides timely information about the environment of the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico and its estuaries for use by decision-makers, including researchers, government managers, industry, the military, educators, emergency responders, and the general public. Among other uses, this information serves national needs for detecting and forecasting oceanic components of climate variability; facilitating safe and efficient marine operations; ensuring national security; managing resources for sustainable use; preserving and restoring healthy marine ecosystems; mitigating natural hazards; and ensuring public health. The objective of the proposed task is to enhance understanding of the social and economic value of the data and analyses produced by the Gulf Coast Ocean Observation System (GCOOS) to the aquaculture and capture fishing industries and the public agencies charged with industry regulation. The specific objectives are: 1) to determine the private and public users of GCOOS data and analyses, including a description of how GCOOS information is accessed, how it is used in subsequent decision-making, and how a potential build-out of GCOOS might impact users; 2) to estimate the social economic benefits associated with GCOOS information by using a stated-preference, survey measurement approach, and evaluate potential way of updating these estimates in the future; 3) to develop a framework for characterizing and quantitatively analyzing the economic value of GCOOS data to private sector value-added information processors and the aquaculture/capture fishing industry consumers of the value-added products; and 4) to create both professional, disciplinary publications and extension outreach materials for use in educating potential aquaculture/capture fishing industry users of GCOOS information. Louisiana will lead the efforts to accomplish this task.

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • The projects detailed in this proposal are designed to produce concrete results that will be delivered to clientele in various ways  through scientific conference, publication outlets, and through extension and outreach programs in each of the participating states.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • The multistate project is intended to enhance consumer and producer welfare of all involved stakeholders. More specifically, each project undertaken as part of the objectives is aimed at increasing the profitability of the U.S. capture fishery and aquaculture industries, either through improvement of management schemes for natural fishery resources or the optimization of production and marketing practices for all seafood products (wild and farm-raised).


(2015): Preliminary findings and results will be presented at a special session at the NAAFE meeting in 2015.

(2016): Progress and accomplishments will be reported at the IIFET meeting.

(2017): Progress and accomplishments will be reported at the NAAFE meeting.

(2018): Progress and accomplishments will be reported at the IIFET meeting.

(2019): Results and recommendations will be compiled in a special issue of Marine Resource Economics and/or an edited book.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Different mechanisms will be used to communicate the results of this multistate project to all interested parties. The most important findings and recommendations will be presented in a special issue of Marine Resource Economics. In addition, special sessions will be organized in the following professional meetings: WAS (World Aquaculture Society), NAAFE (North American Association of Fisheries Economists), IIFET (International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade), and AAEA (American Agricultural Economics Association). Plans also include the development of a website and the publication of an edited book if the volume of generated information warrants it. Other members of the committee will help conduct workshops with industry representatives and submit research results as publications.


Once approved, the initial participants in the project will convene a meeting to elect a new chair, vice chair, and secretary for the technical committee. These three individuals will be responsible for planning the annual meeting of the project and for coordinating progress on the project. Diego Valderrama will initially serve as Outreach Coordinator for the project. Participants currently proposing this multistate project, along with their specific areas of interest, are listed in Appendix E.

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Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

University of Alaska Fairbanks
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