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shrimp fishery.  Put alternatively, small vessels are more diverse and flexible than large vessels with respect to their operations, in general and across fisheries.  This finding is consistent with those in Funk (1998).  However, it is also the case that dependency on food shrimp is much more variable within the small vessel sector than the large vessel sector.  That is, many small vessels are quite dependent on food shrimp landings, while many others illustrate little if any dependency.

Consequently, dependency can be tied to the distribution of active versus inactive (i.e. “latent”) vessels in the Gulf shrimp fishery through 2002.11  The data indicate that, of the 2,951 permitted vessels, 554 did not have any verifiable Gulf shrimp landings in 2002, while 2,397 vessels did.  Large and small vessels comprised approximately 75% and 25% of the active group, respectively.  However, small vessels represented a majority of the inactive group, nearly 53% compared to 47% for large vessels.  In general, a vessel could be found to be latent for a variety of reasons, including permit speculation, participation in other fisheries at that time, and the vessel being sunk or otherwise inoperable.  It is also possible that a vessel’s landings were not identified because of the previously noted data recording and management issues.  This fact is important to bear in mind because it is much more likely that a small vessel’s landings would have been missed, due to the consolidation of landings and suppression of vessel identifiers in the SLF, than a large vessel, particularly if the former was in fact a state registered boat, and even more so if that boat were operating out of Texas and Mississippi, where trip ticket programs covering the food shrimp fishery are not in operation.

An examination of the geographic distribution of inactive vessel owners sheds some light onto this issue.  Specifically, 32% of the inactive vessels’ owners are from Texas, 29.4% are from Florida (including the east coast), 11.3% are from Louisiana, 10.7% are from Alabama, 7.4% are from Mississippi, and the remaining 9.2% are from non-Gulf states.  It is quite likely that many if not most of the alleged “latent” permitted vessels in Texas and Mississippi may in fact be active, but their landings cannot be specifically identified given current data collection practices.  For the other areas, the likely explanation is a combination of permit speculation and the flexible operations of those vessels, particularly those that are small.  However, this question can only be answered with certainty upon changes in current data collection practices (e.g. not consolidating landings of small vessels and suppressing their vessel identifiers in the SLF) and/or the implementation of trip ticket programs for the food shrimp fishery in Texas and Mississippi.

To illustrate the difference that inclusion or exclusion of the inactive permitted vessels has on vessels’ dependency on the food shrimp fishery revenues, refer to Table 5.14.  If inactive vessels are removed, for the permitted group as a whole, dependency increases from about 79% to nearly 97%.  For large vessels, the increase is from about 87% to nearly 98%.  Consistent with the above discussion, the change in dependency is most dramatic for the small vessels, which increases from about 61% to nearly 94% when the inactive vessels are removed from consideration.  Historical and Current Economic Status of the Gulf Shrimp Fishery’s Harvesting Sector

11For present purposes, “active” is defined as having any identifiable landings in the Gulf food shrimp fishery.


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