The literature on fishing-dependent communities addresses three areas: identification of the communities, selection of variables appropriate for assessment and the assessment method itself. Community identification and selection criteria can be very complex or very simple. A simple first level approach would involve examining social and demographic variables at the county level where some fishing activity occurs. A more complex approach involves attempting to gather data and information on as small an entity as possible that qualifies as a fishing community. As the definition of community moves farther from traditional economic or political entities, less official data are available and more field research is required to complete the baseline profile and include relevant social and cultural value data.
Jacob et al. (2001) developed a protocol for defining and identifying fishing-dependent communities in accordance with National Standard 8. The project used central place theory to identify communities. A central place is where services, goods and other needs are met for the residents in the central place, as well as for those in surrounding hinterlands. It differs from using an administrative unit such as county boundaries, which may distort smaller communities or locality data as it is aggregated. The authors believed central place theory works well for defining and identifying fishing-dependent communities or localities as it provides a geographic basis for including multiplier effects that capture forward and backward linkages. In most fishing-dependent communities, forward linkages include those businesses that handle the fish once it is brought to the dock, such as fish houses, wholesalers, exporters, and seafood shops and restaurants. Backward linkages are the goods and services fishermen depend upon such as boat building and repair; net making and repair; marinas; fuel docks; bait, tackle and other gear vendors. Using their protocol of defining fishing-dependent communities, the authors initially determined five communities as commercially fishing-dependent and seven communities as recreationally fishing dependent. Further investigations resulted in validating five communities as commercially fishing dependent. The authors expressed little confidence in the data used and indicators developed based on such data to confirm the other communities as recreationally fishing-dependent communities. The five commercially fishing-dependent communities are: Steinhatchee, Apalachicola, Panama City, Ochopee/Everglades City, and Panacea.
The Generic Essential Fish Habitat Amendment (GMFMC, 2004a) provides more extensive characterization of fishing-dependent communities throughout the Gulf coasts. The fishing communities included in the characterizations are: (1) Alabama: Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Bayou La Batre, and Dauphin Island; (2) Florida: Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Ft. Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joseph, Apalachicola, East Point, Carabelle, St. Marks, Horseshoe Beach, Cedar Key, Yankeetown, Inglis, Crystal River, Homosassa, New Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Madeira Beach, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Cortez, Matlacha, Bokeelia, Ft. Myers Beach, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades, Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key-Summerland Key, and Key West; (3) Louisiana: Venice, Empire, Grand Isle, Golden Meadow, Cutoff, Chauvin, Dulac, Houma, Delcambre, Morgan City, and Cameron; (4) Mississippi: Pascagoula, Gautier, Biloxi, and Gulfport; and, (5) Texas: Port Arthur, Galveston, Freeport, Palacios, Port Lavaca, Seadrift, Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Brownsville, Port Isabel, and South Padre Island.
3.2.2 Shrimp Fishing Communities