Effects of an innovative and controversial fisheries management strategy

How does shifting from traditional fisheries management to the newer approach known as catch shares affect fish, fishermen, and fishing businesses? We teamed up with economists, sociologists, ecologists, and governance experts to analyze the data and translate the findings for everyone interested in the fisheries.


MRAG Americas

Funded by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation


The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Conservation Initiative provided a multi-year grant to MRAG Americas to explore the opportunities and constraints for expanding access to fisheries data and information, specifically for US fisheries that recently changed from traditional management to a newer and often contentious approach known as catch shares. MRAG Americas engaged Waterview Consulting as the communications lead for the Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares (MECS) project. The project’s goal was to create an interactive, web-based platform for conveying a set of neutral, scientific indicators based on the best available fisheries data that could be used by fishing industry participants, fishery managers, and other interested parties to supplement and inform their own understanding of catch share program effects.


In addition to Waterview Consulting, the interdisciplinary team included fishery ecologists (University of Washington and MRAG Americas), economists (Northern Economics), sociologists (AECOM), and a legal and governance expert (Iudicello Consulting). The team collaborated extensively to define, analyze, and communicate a set of scientifically rigorous indicators that were designed to provide meaningful information for a broad audience. The scientific approach and the communications approach were developed in tandem, which benefited both aspects of the project. The team conducted extensive outreach and engagement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), and fishermen to raise awareness of MECS, gain insight into their information needs, and solicit feedback on interim MECS products.

We planned and implemented the communications strategy; created the logo, branding, and collateral materials; worked with the project scientists to develop a framework for communicating the findings; and iteratively built the website that was the primarily vehicle for delivering the findings.

Map showing locations of fisheries analyzed by MECS


The MECS project encountered data access challenges but ultimately succeeded in developing a website that has been received by members of the private and public sector alike as a useful tool that brings together and communicates disparate information that is not otherwise readily accessible.

The website offers an online dashboard consisting of one simple, at-a-glance graph for each ecological, economic, social, and governance performance indicator. The dashboard acts as an entryway to the indicator narrative and interactive graphics. Within the constraints of the aggregated data provided by NMFS and the PSMFC, users can drill down to find the level of detail and nuance they want to answer their questions about the catch share programs. Selecting an indicator in the dashboard directs the user to a webpage that presents increasingly granular levels of information for the indicator from a high-level overview to more in-depth explanations.

Screenshot of Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares home page
Example screenshot of Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares indicator dashboard page
Example screenshot of Measuring the Effects of Catch Shares indicator page

We reported on the MECS project and its outcomes in detail in a peer-reviewed article published in Marine Policy.


Schug, D. M., P. H. Taylor, S. Iudicello, and J. H. Swasey. 2020. Using online data visualization and analysis to facilitate public involvement in management of catch share programs. Marine Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.104272.

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