What is trip-level reporting?

Trip-level reporting means collecting catch and effort information from commercial fishermen on a trip-by-trip basis and is the standard established over the last fifteen years by all Atlantic coast marine fisheries agencies, through partnership in the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP). This standard was established so that data collected by all states and the federal government could be pooled together, allowing for more effective management of marine resources, particularly those that span multiple jurisdictions. Today, most Atlantic states and the federal government collect comprehensive trip-level data.

Who will this affect?

Many Massachusetts fishermen already report trip-level data to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), through the Vessel Trip Report (VTR) or Highly Migratory Species (HMS) programs, and therefore will not have to report to the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). All other Massachusetts commercial fishermen will be required to submit trip-level data to DMF. Furthermore, all trips conducted under the authority of their commercial permit will be reported, regardless of whether the catch is sold or consumed personally. If a federal permit is dropped or moved to a dormant vessel while fishing continues, or if fishing occurs on a non-federally permitted vessel, those trips must be reported to DMF. The objective is to expand coverage to all commercial trips and all species, in a standardized format, while at the same time eliminate duplicate reporting.

Why is this happening?

Accurate and comprehensive catch and effort data are critical to effective fisheries management. Massachusetts has been collecting commercial catch & effort data for over thirty-five years, via a series of annual fishery-specific catch reports. While this system
has yielded invaluable information, it is neither comprehensive nor at the trip-level. Comprehensive, standardized trip-level data will provide the information required for management strategies such as catch shares and/or individual quotas to work. It will also provide a less-confusing reporting scheme, replacing the multitude of fishery-specific annual reports used currently, and eliminating duplicative reporting now required by most federallypermitted Massachusetts fishermen. Lastly, it dovetails with efforts currently underway to improve the collection of recreational fishing data, through the implementation of a recreational saltwater permit.

Why trip-level reporting?

All of the Atlantic States and the NOAA Fisheries Service determined several years ago that commercial fisheries data must be in a standardized format to combine it from multiple states to manage a stock that spans more than one jurisdiction.  Several years ago, the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) was formed by all Atlantic States and NOAA Fisheries to house all fisheries data in an effort to better manage marine resources along the Atlantic Coast.  Trip-level reporting was chosen as the standard format for commercial catch and effort data.  This format has been employed by NOAA Fisheries through their Fishing Vessel Trip Report (FVTR) program for many years.

Am I going to have to do this from now on?

Yes. Massachusetts has adopted trip-level reporting as the standard for commercial catch reporting starting in 2010.

I report my landings to NOAA Fisheries on FVTRs. Do I also have to submit trip-level reports to Massachusetts?

No. Permit holders who report all of their landings through the federal FVTR program are exempt from this trip-level reporting program.  However, if any of your fishing activity is not reported on the VTR (i.e. shellfishing) you must also fill-out MA trip-level reports.

Are other states required to do this?

Several other states either require or are phasing in trip-level reporting by all commercial fishermen.

What information am I going to have to report?

Information you will be required to report for a trip includes, trip date, trip start time, area fished, species, pounds landed, disposition (food or bait), gear type, total gear in water, gear hauled during trip, soak/fishing time, port,  and dealer sold to.  All gear types employed and species landed under the selected permit must be reported.

If I've just renewed my permit, do I have to report from the beginning of the year?

Yes, you are responsible for reporting your commercial activities for all of a given year, regardless of when you obtained the MA commercial permit.

I only fish during the summer months. Do I have to report for the winter months as well?

Yes. You can submit one negative report for multiple months of no fishing activity in advance.

Do I have to report all species I land throughout the year through this reporting program?

Yes.  All species landed under the authority of a commercial permit need to be reported. Please see the definition of a commercial permit in the instructions and the striped bass questions below.

Will I have to fill out a separate page for each trip?

If you are reporting via paper or spreadsheet submission, multiple trips, for the same month, can be entered on one report, using separate lines for each trip.  If you are reporting electronically, each trip is entered individually.

I have more than one MA commercial permit.  Will I receive a separate account for each permit?  

No, one account will be provided and it will access each of the permits you hold.  However, please note that you must submit reports for each permit.  When you enter a trip or a negative report, you are doing so only for one permit.  You must do the same for any other permits you hold.  If you’ve received more than one SAFIS account to report your trip-level data, please let us know and we will eliminate any unnecessary accounts and be sure to combine all permits under one.

I hold two MA commercial permits for two different vessels, the second of which has a federal permit which requires that I submit VTR’s to NMFS.  However, I see that second permit when I log in to SAFIS.  Does this mean I also have to report electronically in addition to the VTR’s for this permit?

No, even though you see that MA commercial permit in SAFIS, your reporting responsibility for that permit is to NMFS.  However, you will submit reports for the other permit in SAFIS, assuming the vessel associated to the permit does not have reporting requirements with NMFS.  One of the main objectives of this new program is to eliminate duplicative reporting.  If the vessel on your permit requires that you report to NMFS, then you will report to them.  If not, then you will report to DMF either using SAFIS, or through some other means such as paper or spreadsheet.

Will I be exempt from filling out end-of-the-year catch reports?

Yes.  You will most likely only have to fill out an additional form that asks some economic questions (i.e. boat value, # of crew, fuel used etc.).

Do I have to report even if I don’t fish?

Yes.  Negative reports must be submitted on a monthly basis. Consecutive months of “no fishing” can be reported on one report if reporting via paper forms.  If you are reporting electronically, negative reports are due only for those months when no commercial trips were conducted.

I do not sell fish to anyone, I hold the commercial permit just in case I catch more than recreational rules allow, and when I do, it is for self consumption.  Do I still need to report the catch?

You should only report activities which pertain to your commercial trips or those defined as a trip where fishing occurred under the authority of your commercial permit.  This could be a trip where marine species where sold to a dealer OR were taken for personal consumption under the authority of the commercial permit.

Simply put, this means that the fish you retained were conforming to the commercial season as well as the commercial size and bag limits.  Do not report your trips which only pertain to recreational seasons, sizes and bag limits.  If you did not conduct any commercial trips during a month, you must submit negative reports for that time period.

I hold a commercial striped bass endorsement. If I go fishing on a no-fishing day (Saturday), do you want me to report that trip?

No, this would be considered a recreational trip.

I hold a commercial striped bass endorsement. If I fish on an open commercial fishing day but do not sell my fish and my catch conforms to the recreational rules, should I report that trip?

No, this would be considered a recreational trip.

I hold a commercial striped bass endorsement. If I fish on an open commercial fishing day and retain more than 2 fish per angler but don’t sell the fish, do you want me to report that trip?

Yes, this would be considered a commercial trip.

If I am only growing and harvesting cultured clams, do I still need to report?

Yes.  Beginning in 2011, all aquaculture harvest must be reported on your trip-level reports that correspond to the permit with your shellfish transaction card.

Do I have to complete a report if I am going out just to set gear, such as lobster traps?

No. You do not have to report a commercial trip if the vessel returns to port prior to engaging in any commercial fishing activity (e.g., setting gear only, mechanical break down, bad weather).

When will these reports be due?

Completed trip-level reports for one month’s trips will be due by the 15th of the following month. For example, all reports for January are due by February 15th.  Negative reports can be filed in advance if you know you will not be fishing until a certain point in time in the future.

How do I submit these reports?

Paper reports may be submitted by mail to the MADMF Statistics Project, 30 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester, MA, 01930 or by fax to (800-532-3474 or 617-727-3337).  Electronic reports are entered directly into the SAFIS database using the eTrips application.  You can also send us a completed spreadsheet as an email attachment if you like.

Can I enter these reports online?

Yes, an online application called eTrips, part of the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) Standard Atlantic Fisheries Information System (SAFIS).  If you’d like to enter your commercial trips electronically call us at 978-282-0308 ext. 101 or email dmf.stats@state.ma.us.

I’d like to report by completing and submitting a spreadsheet file, can I do that instead, and if so, where can I find the spreadsheet template?

Yes.  The spreadsheet template can be found on our website at: http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/commercialfishing/trip_level.htm#form
Complete the form and email it as an attachment, and we will upload the data to the SAFIS database.  Once it is uploaded, you can view the entered trips using your SAFIS account.

If I decide I don’t want to report electronically, can I switch to paper reporting?

Yes, just let us know and we can either send you paper reports via the US Mail or you can download them from our website at:

My supply of paper forms is getting low.  How do I get more?

You can make copies of existing blank reports if you have them, download more from our website at: Trip-Level Reporting or call us at 978-282-0308 x101 and we can mail you more forms.

My supply of federal VTR forms is getting low.  How do I get more?

VTR forms can be obtained by contacting the NMFS Data Center office staff, either in person, or by telephone at (978) 281-9246 or by contacting your local NMFS Field Office.


Compliance

Can I report ahead if I know I won’t be fishing commercially?

Yes, you can submit negative reports for those months that you know you will not be fishing commercially.

My permit was renewed in June, and I only fished commercially during the months July through September.  Given that it is October 1, and I am done fishing, I need to submit my reports for the year.  I realize I am late in doing so for the first eight months (Jan – Aug), will I be penalized for filing late?

Even though you renewed your permit in June, you are still required to report for all months of the year.  Your compliance grade for the year will be determined by evaluating submission dates for those months starting with the one your permit was issued to the end of the year.  In your case this would be June – December or 7 months.  However, reports for January through May will not be considered when determining your compliance “grade” for the year.  June’s report was due by July 15, and is considered “late” if not received by Aug 15; July’s report was due by Aug 15 and is considered “late” if not received by Sep 15, etc.  Your Aug report, although due by Sep 15, is not considered “late” until Oct 15.  So your Jun and Jul reports will be given a grade of “late” for the year, and if you submit everything for the year by Oct 15, that means the other 5 months will be considered “on time”.  Two out of seven months results in a 28% late grade, which means, because it is greater than 25%, you have received a “failed” grade for the year, and your permit will be under probation for the following year.

What happens if I fail two years in a row with respect to reporting compliance?

If you fail two years in a row, your permit will be suspended or revoked, pending a review by the Director.

If I failed last year, and passed this year, does that mean my permit is no longer under probation?

Yes, your probation status is removed if you pass the following year.