About the Data

Cost Summaries and Data Sources

This tool provides summaries for fixed and quasi-fixed cost information at the commercial fishing vessel-level for the year investigated. The data summarized in this website include costs collected in the Greater Atlantic Region Commercial Fishing Business Cost Survey (see the 'Survey FAQs' page for more details) as well as data from the Federal Permit Database and the Commercial Fishing Dealers Database. Note that trip costs, such as fuel, bait, and ice, are not summarized on this tool at this time.

Gear Grouping

The primary gear for each vessel is determined by the gear type which yielded the highest revenues from catch sold to a federal dealer in the year in which costs were being investigated.

Though each vessel is grouped into a primary gear type, vessel costs are not apportioned to the gear usage, such that the cost summaries reflect a vessel's total for each year.

Histogram Bin Generation

Histogram cost groupings or "bins" are generated using the information collected for each individual cost category and will differ depending on which cost category and gear type are selected. The percent of responses are generated using the total number of unique participants that responded to each cost or sub-cost category divided by the number of participants that fall into each cost bin and multiplied by 100. The percent of respondents are grouped into three separate bins for each year. The cost ranges for each bin are determined using the rounded average for all costs in that specific category across all three years. Once the rounded average is determined the following equation is used:

  • Bin 1: $0 ≤ cost value ≤ (category average*0.5)
  • Bin 2: (category average*0.5) < cost value ≤ (category average)
  • Bin 3: cost value > category average

For example, the average mooring fees for gill net vessels, across 2011, 2012, and 2015 survey responses, is $2,712 in 2021 constant dollars. Rounding is based on the number of digits, in this case the 4 digits, meaning the rounded average is $3,000. If the owner of a gill net vessel incurred mooring fees of $0-$1,500, in a year, they would be in bin 1. If the amount incurred were $1,501-$3,000, the response would fall in bin 2. If the amount incurred were > $3,000, the response would fall in bin 3.


Revenues are summarized for vessels that responded to the survey using information from the Commercial Fishing Dealers Database. All costs are reported in 2021 dollars and are deflated using the GDP implicit price deflator (2012=100)

Response Rates

The response, sample, and population information describes the total number of participants that responded to the survey, the number of vessels/vessel owners who were sent a survey, and the total number of active commercial vessels by gear type, respectively. For some gear groups and years, responses are relatively low. Analyses were conducted to identify if the group of respondents were statistically different from the sample. Results suggest that nonresponse bias was generally not detected when comparing survey respondents to non respondents across vessel characteristics including vessel length, tonnage, horsepower, and age. For more information, please refer to the cost survey data Technical Memoranda. Because longline and seine gear had relatively low sample sizes and responses across the survey years, the number and percent of respondents are not displayed to protect data confidentiality.

Data Quality Control and Outlier Removal

There were multiple areas in which data quality was assessed across the three survey years. In a small number of cases, a vessel owner filled out multiple surveys within the same year. For these occurrences, only the first returned survey was retained for data analysis. If a survey respondent provided a cost range to a question as opposed to a single value, the average was taken to serve as the reported value. If a survey respondent skipped a particular question, no data imputation was performed and the value was not assumed to be $0.00 unless $0.00 was written by the participant. For detection of data outliers, any returned survey that contained values greater than 5 standard deviations from the mean for the repair/maintenance, upgrade/improvement, vessel costs, or overhead cost categories was excluded in the data analysis. The total number of survey responses dropped based on the removal of outliers was 12 responses for 2011, 7 responses for 2012, and 5 responses for 2015.

Data Confidentiality

Data confidentiality is protected by presenting three or more individual units of data. In cases where the summary does not meet this requirement, data are not presented.

Cost Categories and Sub-Costs

The survey versions (2011, 2012 and 2015) were modified over the years such that some cost categories differ from year to year. To further understand these changes please refer to the Technical Memoranda, Table 7 page 25-26.

Only some sub-categories are presented for the user to query individually given limited responses per category. However, all the components of the major cost categories are presented in the Metadata table below.

All data are presented as an annual, vessel-level cost for the year in which the data were collected.

Cost Categories Table
* Denotes sub-cost categories are not able to be summarized individually given the limited responses for each, but the values reported in these sub-categories are included in the generation and summarization of the primary cost category. For additional information on response rates or cost categories, please see the cost survey Technical Memoranda: An Overview of the Social Sciences Branch (SSB) Commercial Fishing Business Cost Survey in the Northeast: Protocol and Results for Survey Years 2011, 2012, and 2015.
Cost Category Sub-Components Notes
Repair/Maintenance & Upgrade/ Improvement
  • Propulsion Engine
  • Deck Equipment
  • Hull
  • Fishing Gear
  • Processing/Refrigeration*
  • Safety Equipment
  • Haul-out Costs

For the 2011 and 2012 surveys, the cost of repairs for each of these vessel components was queried separately. For the 2015 survey, a composite value across all vessel components was queried. Additionally, for the 2012 survey, a separate line item for "Other Repair/Maintenance Costs" was queried. These costs were binned into "Other Costs" to maintain consistency in the repair/maintenance category.

The 2011 and 2012 surveys queried only vessel-level repair/maintenance costs, while the 2015 survey queried these costs at the vessel-level and business-level. However, there appeared to be confusion among respondents in the querying of business-level costs. As a result, only vessel-level costs are summarized.

Vessel Costs
  • Mooring/Dockage Fees
  • State and Federal Permits and/or License Renewal Fees
  • Vessel or Permit Payments
  • Vessel Insurance Premium
Overhead Costs
  • Business Vehicle Usage Costs
  • Business Travel Costs*
  • Association Fees Paid
  • Professional Fees Paid
  • Advertising Costs*
  • Communications Costs
  • Office/Shop Expenses
  • Non-crew Labor Payments

For the purposes of reporting vessel-level costs, business-level costs have to be apportioned. For the 2011 survey, owners of multiple vessels were instructed to only report their business costs associated with the vessel specified at the beginning of the survey such that vessel owners were asked to apportion a percentage of their total business cost to the specified vessel. For the 2012 and 2015 surveys, owners of multiple vessels were instructed to report their cumulative business costs across all vessels, and to also provide the number of vessels owned. For these later two survey years, we divide through to calculate the average business cost per vessel.

Total Payment to Crew/Hired Captain Total Annual Payments and Benefits Made to Crew/Hired Captain

Vessel payments to crew/hired captain and benefits paid to crew/hired captain were queried during each of the three survey years. Total payments to crew and hired captain were collected separately in 2012 and 2015 and as a single combined value in 2011. The vast majority of vessel owners across all years (~90%) indicated they did not provide benefits to crew. Crew payments and benefits were aggregated to form the total payment to crew/hired captain category.

Future Expansions

This tool is intended to evolve and expand to address users' needs. Many planned expansions are dependent on commercial fishing vessel owners responding to the Greater Atlantic Region Commercial Fishing Business Cost Survey (see FAQ page). Increased responses will allow us to add additional gear categories to summarize data and explore additional options to display cost data. We also plan to develop a trip cost component of the tool. This tool will be updated regularly to incorporate user input and add processed survey data.