Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Biology


Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

James Wilson

Third Committee Member

James McCleave


Voluntary participation has troubled policy makers since Aristotle's time. Its perceived benefits in input and policy acceptance make it highly attractive. The Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 created a regional system of fishery governance and included opportunities for public participation. However, implicit in these mandates were two assumptions: interested stakeholders will participate, and participation will be non-biased. Research has shown that participation tends to occur among those that are more financially-able and opinionated, producing a condition of overall low participation and nonparticipation of moderates. Coupled with the high costs of participation in time and monetary loss, the actual participant makeup has the potential to be biased. I examined the presence of voluntary participation within the New England Fishery Management Council from 2003-2006, and evaluated whether its trends followed those of the literature. Additionally, I analyzed and compared three key fisheries, the groundfish, herring, and scallop fisheries, for their differences in participation, including the mid-Atlantic region as the council regulates these fisheries in that region as well. To determine whether this participation is biased, I compared the spatial distributions of the industry's attendees to that of its fishing permits and landings data. The attendee data showed a significant and negative relationship between number of attendees and distance traveled; however, no significant differences existed among the attendees and the industry distributions, except between the scallop permits and landings within New England down to the Washington, DC area. Biased participation can have not only social effects on industry participants but also ecological effects on the managed stocks. The scallop access areas within the groundfish closure Closed Area I represent the results of both presence of large scallop biomass within the closure area and lobbying by the scallop industry to fish within the area. This case study evaluates potential ecological effects of voluntary participation by the scallop industry upon the groundfish industry. Research has pointed to the beneficial effects of habitat structure upon the survival of juvenile groundfish, but this structure is generally reduced or absent in areas of scallop dredging. Using the innovative HabCam data from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from its 2006 survey, I evaluated diversity differences among areas closed to dredging since the 2000 access area and those recently dredged during the 2005 access area. As the data set is extremely dense, I first estimated appropriate levels of data decimation, in order to optimize sampling time. Within the spatial and temporal constraints of this study, a one-way analysis of variance indicated no significant differences among these sites, suggesting a lack of an effect from fishing effort on diversity. Temporal constraints limited both the evaluation of voluntary participation and diversity differences within this study, while spatial constraints also limited the diversity study. These methods present a unique opportunity to combine both social and economic effects and influences of fisheries management with the ecological effects upon the managed fish stocks. Although no significant differences were found in either participation or diversity, this study lays the groundwork for future similar studies.

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