Marine Science Faculty Publications

Resilience of a Commercial Fishing Fleet Following Emergency Closures in the Gulf of Mexico

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Deepwater Horizon, Fishing closures, Resilience, Spatiotemporal patterns, Trip logbooks, Vessel monitoring systems

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We used high-resolution fisheries-dependent data and a quantitative modeling approach to examine resilience of a commercial reef fish fleet after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH) emergency closures in 2010. Our results indicate that the fleet was largely resilient to the closures, although there were spatially-varying differences in attrition, and concomitant management changes and emergency payouts that likely influenced resilience. Five percent of previously active vessels exited the fleet after DWH (compared to the background annual attrition rate of ˜20%). The predicted probability of exiting after DWH was lower for vessels with a pre-closure history of high catch-per-unit-effort, low snapper revenue variability, or low grouper revenue. There was ˜80% overlap in pre- to post-DWH effort distribution, although vessels that exited concentrated effort in the north-central and eastern Gulf of Mexico. The Vessels of Opportunity program and other emergency compensation likely ameliorated some of the negative economic impacts from DWH, allowing more vessels to remain in the fleet than may have otherwise. Implementation of gear restrictions and individual fishing quotas leading up to DWH may have also ‘primed’ the fleet for resilience by removing marginal fishers. This work is novel in its use of high-resolution spatial data, coupled with trip logbooks, to construct quantitative models identifying drivers of fisher resilience after significant and sudden perturbations to fishery resources in the Gulf of Mexico. This work also highlights the need to better understand fisher response to disturbance for long-term fishery sustainability and management.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Fisheries Research, v. 218, p. 69-82