By | General, General MRAG, Version 2017


MRAG scientists are highly published in peer-reviewed journals and symposium proceedings, have presented invited papers at international meetings, and write large scale reports for governments and NGOs.  Please contact us for complimentary materials or further information on these selected reports and publications.

Project Reports & Related Publications

Project: Mapping of US Fisheries Data Interoperability Initiatives

Client: The Kingfisher Foundation and The David and Lucille Packard Foundation

With the goal of informing and catalyzing new efforts to modernize information systems and advance data interoperability in U.S. fisheries, MRAG Americas conducted research and interviews with dozens of managers, stakeholders, and fishery information systems experts, as well as individuals who have helped lead data interoperability initiatives in other industries. The resulting report provides the synthesis of these efforts to identify the latest data collection/utilization technologies being used, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

Additional details on this project are available here:

Final Report: Towards interoperable Fisheries Data Systems in the U.S., A Review of Progress & Lessons from Comparable Sectors, Full Report Companion to the Policy Brief (2017)

Project: Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis for Selected California Fisheries

Client: California Ocean Science Trust

In 2016, MRAG applied NOAA’s Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) methodology to 45 fishery units in California as part of an information gathering process related to California’s MLMA Master Plan Amendment. The NOAA PSA methodology was selected for its inclusion of attributes that evaluate the management strategy and value of a fishery, along with its ability to generate and consider a data quality score. The analyses were conducted by MRAG Americas, Inc. with input and review from CDFW experts. The list of fisheries for analysis represented a diversity of stocks that spanned commercial and sport sectors, gear types, coastal areas, and included finfish and invertebrates. It also represented those state-managed fisheries with the highest commercial landings, recreational catch, or commercial/recreational participation, as evaluated by CDFW.

Additional details on this project are available here:

Final Report, available through the California Ocean Science Trust: Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis for Selected California Fisheries (2016)

Project: A Framework for Exploring the Role of Bioeconomics on Observed Fishing Patterns and Ecosystem Dynamics

Client: Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Understanding the patterns of development of fisheries across trophic levels and their effects on ecosystems is important for sustainable fishing. MRAG developed an age-structured food web model to explore some of the bioeconomic causes and consequences of fishing patterns. We illustrate some of the model behaviors using a food chain ecosystem, parameterized using species found in the northwest Atlantic. This work is a contribution of the California Current Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program.

Publication: Wiedenmann, J., J. Wilen, P. Levin, M. Plummer & M. Mangel. 2016.  A Framework for Exploring the Role of Bioeconomics on Observed Fishing Patterns and Ecosystem Dynamics. Coastal Management, Coastal Management. Volume 44, 2016.

Project: The Effects of Catch Share Management on MSC Certification Scores

Client: Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation

This research examined the effects of catch shares management on assessment scores for fisheries certified under the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) sustainability standard. We explored whether catch shares management, including specific characteristics of catch share program design, might influence the probability of achieving higher assessment scores under the MSC Standard and therefore be beneficial to fisheries seeking certification. Through application of Bayesian Belief Networks, we established a versatile methodology with potential value for exploring further the relationships between management interventions and fishery outcomes.

Final Report: The Influence of Catch Share Management on MSC Assessment Scores (2105)

Parkes, G., J.H. Swasey, F.M. Underwood, T.P. Fitzgerald, K. Strauss, D.J. Agnew. 2016. The effects of catch share management on MSC certification scores. Fisheries Research.
Underwood, F.M., G. Parkes and J.H. Swasey. 2016. Building Bayesian Belief Networks to investigate how fishery performance responds to management interventions. Fisheries research.

Project: Productivity Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) Test Case for Selected California Fisheries

Client: California Ocean Science Trust

California Ocean Science Trust contracted with MRAG Americas to conduct a Productivity Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) on twelve California fisheries to better understand the role this tool can play in setting objectives for fisheries management. PSA is a tool for identifying and prioritizing a fishery stock’s vulnerability to overfishing. PSA can be conducted alone or as part of a wider analysis of stock status and sustainability.

Final Report, available through the California Ocean Science Trust: Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis with Next Step Recommendations: Test Cases for Selected California Fisheries (2014)

Project: Reducing Fisheries Uncertainty

Client:  Marine Fish Conservation Network

MRAG Americas prepared this report for the Marine Fish Conservation Network (MFCN) in 2011. The goal was to identify federal fisheries budget investments that could reduce scientific and management uncertainty in the catch-setting process to support achievement of the MSA’s dual mandate for conservation and optimal use of the nation’s ocean fisheries resources. The report demonstrated the potential for achieving substantial reductions in scientific and management uncertainty by targeting investments at key data collection, catch monitoring and stock assessment programs. Investments in the basic information infrastructure of fisheries management enable scientists to reduce uncertainty buffers in their fishing level recommendations and fishery managers to optimize fishing opportunities within the limits recommended by scientists without increasing the risk of overfishing. The project outlined an investment strategy and rationale for targeted funding in priority NMFS budget programs in FY 2012 and beyond.

Final Report: Reducing Fisheries Uncertainty: Investing to End Overfishing and Rebuild America’s Fisheries (2011)

Project: Guiding Principles for Development of Effective Monitoring Programs

Client: Environmental Defense Fund

In 2010, MRAG Americas convened two workshops for fisheries monitoring experts to develop guiding principles that would have broad application to the design of effective fisheries monitoring programs. Participants recognized the importance of summarizing lessons learned, as well as the individuality of each fishery and its goals. The Monitoring Guiding Principles provide guidance for fishery managers and other stakeholders on planning, developing, and implementing monitoring programs. By outlining key components to consider and providing concise recommendations, the Guiding Principles can expedite and improve the design of monitoring programs. Since their first development, the Guiding Principles have been presented by MRAG at numerous meetings in the US and internationally

Final Report: MRAG-EDF Guiding Principles for Development of Effective Monitoring Programs (2011)

Publication: Zollett, E.A., R.J. Trumble, J.H. Swasey and S.B. Stebbins. 2015. Guiding Principles for Development of Effective Commercial Fishery Monitoring Programs. Abstract. Fisheries. Vol. 40 (1): 20-25. (contact:

Project: Catch Shares in New England: Key Questions and Lessons Learned from Existing Programs

Client: Meridian Institute

MRAG Americas, with the Meridian Institute, conducted analysis of key issues and questions related to catch shares in New England and case studies of existing catch shares programs in the United States and internationally. The analysis of issues was conducted through conversations with a diversity of stakeholders involved in the development of catch shares in New England and a review of media articles, discussions, and statements from the public at New England Fishery Management Council meetings and other venues. The case studies describe select existing programs in the United States and internationally and identify lessons that can be applied to the New England groundfish fishery and other fisheries considering a transition to catch shares.

Additional details on this project are available here:

Final Report: Catch Shares in New England  (2010)

Project: Use of Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis in Setting Annual Catch Limits for US Fisheries

Client: Lenfest Ocean Program

In July and August 2007, MRAG Americas convened a working group of experts in fisheries science and management (The ACL Working Group) to discuss applying the ACL and AM requirements to all species caught in U.S. waters. The purpose of the workshop was to develop recommendations on methodology for vulnerability assessments (productivity and susceptibility analyses (PSA)) that would apply to all US fisheries for use in setting annual catch limits as mandated by the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act (MSRA) of 2007.

The Working Group recommended the Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis (PSA), which is the second of a three level Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing (ERAEF), for this purpose. The PSA approach is a method of assessing the risk to the sustainability of a target fish species or stock based on a comprehensive screening for a set of predetermined measurable attributes. PSAs were conducted for fishery stocks from the Atlantic HMS Division, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific regions.

Additional details on this project are available here:

Final Reports:
Use of PSA in Setting Annual Catch Limits for U.S. Fisheries: A Workshop Report (2009)
Use of PSA in Setting Annual Catch Limits for U.S. Fisheries: An Overview (2009)

Project: Ecological Valuation Index Working Group

Client: SeaPlan (Formerly Massachusetts Ocean Partnership)

In July, 2009, the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership (MOP) asked MRAG Americas to review the Massachusetts’ Ecological Valuation Index (EVI) and to provide advice and options for enhancing the methodology in the short and long term. MRAG Americas, MOP, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) convened a working session in October 2009 to review the existing EVI methodology and to develop recommendations for possible enhancements. This report provides an overview of the tools presented at the working session, the discussion that ensued among participants and the resulting recommendations. The recommendations provided are largely conceptual, given the limited time participants had to further clarify them. These recommendations will likely require further discussions, particularly among the involved parties and developers of the tools, to expand the concepts into operational recommendations.

Additional details on this project are available here:

Final Report: Ecological Valuation Index Report

Project: Identification of Decision Support Tools to Implement Ecosystem Based Management in Massachusetts

Client: SeaPlan (Formerly Massachusetts Ocean Partnership)

Using the most current research and expertise in the field, in 2009 MRAG Americas proposed a framework of steps for the State and the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership to implement an Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) approach to Massachusetts ocean planning. The framework was intended to facilitate decision making, enable thinking beyond issue boundaries, and recognize the breadth of issues and information types to be integrated. The decision support tools identified were broadly classified as modeling tools, decision analysis tools, and indicators. Modeling tools allow the user to organize data, communicate scientific findings to management and stakeholder audiences, and test alternative management scenarios. Decision analysis tools can inform management decisions but should not be relied upon solely; they are valuable aids in the process and provide opportunities for all-stakeholder input, visualization, and scenario analysis. Indicators are scientifically measureable ecological or socio-economic phenomena used for monitoring and evaluating the status of systems being managed. By helping to identify and mitigate lack of information, these scientific tools can be of great value in the shift to ecosystem based management.

Additional details on this project are available here:

Final Report: Science Tools to Implement Ecosystem Based Management in Massachusetts  (2009)

Project: Bycatch of protected species and other species of concern in US East Coast commercial fisheries

Client: New England Aquarium’s Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction NOAA award NA06NMF4520120, US Department of Commerce

This project, for the New England Aquarium’s Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction, reviewed bycatch of protected species and other species of concern in commercial fishing gear on the U.S. East Coast.  Existing and potential bycatch of marine mammal, sea turtle, seabird, fish, and invertebrate species was documented and existing bycatch mitigation and management measures described to inform scientists, managers, fishers, and conservation practitioners and support future decision-making regarding bycatch mitigation on the U.S. East Coast.

Publication: Zollett, E.A. 2009. Bycatch of protected species and other species of concern in US east coast commercial fisheries. Endangered Species Research. Vol 9: 49-59. (contact:

Project: Identification of Best Practices in Fisheries Management

Client: Lenfest Ocean Program

In 2007, MRAG Americas convened a working group of fisheries experts to review the best management practices of U.S. fisheries. “Best Practices” were defined as existing management approaches that had been successful and appeared likely to produce success elsewhere if implemented more widely. There may be room for further improvement, but these were best that was currently being used at that time in the United States with some illustrations from other countries. This consensus report describes the primary features of fisheries management, best practices (in 2007) for each of those features, and examples from the United States and abroad.

More details on this project are available here:

Final Report: Best Practices in U.S. Fisheries Management  (2008)

Project: Review And Development Of Nearshore Legal And Policy Framework For Community-based Management Opportunities In Port Orford, Oregon

Client: National Sea Grant Law Center

The Port Orford Ocean Resources Team (POORT), received a grant from the National Sea Grant Legal Foundation to explore whether their vision of a legal and policy framework for community-based management opportunities in Oregon was possible under existing state and federal law. This analysis was based on law, policy, events and circumstances as they existed in Oregon from March 2007 to March 2008, but there were elements that were generally applicable to coastal communities elsewhere in the United States. Case studies described US approaches to community-based management outside Oregon, including sector allocations, individual fishing quotas, community quotas, local area management, co-management and cooperative research. While all these frameworks were permissible to some degree under U.S. or applicable state law, some required legislative or congressional action.

Final Report: Review And Development of Nearshore Legal And Policy Framework For Community-based Management Opportunities in Port Orford, Oregon (2008)

Project: Profiles of Communities Dependent on Highly Migratory Species Fisheries

Client: NOAA Fisheries

This project addressed a need to collect more detailed and consistent baseline data to determine specific social impacts on communities dependent, to some degree, on fishing. In this report, we utilized a modified method that allowed for ranking and selection of communities most involved in Highly Migratory Species (HMS) fisheries. The selected methodology and prioritization of communities according to how recently they were/weren’t profiled resulted in 24 communities.

Final Report: Updated Social Impact Assessment Profiles for HMS Dependant Fishing Communities  (2008)

Project: Setting Annual Catch Limits in US Fisheries

Client: Lenfest Ocean Program

When the U.S. Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 2006, it included requirements to specify annual catch limits and accountability measures that would prevent overfishing for all fisheries. In July and August 2007, the Lenfest Ocean Program convened a working group of experts in fisheries science and management to discuss applying these requirements to all species caught in U.S. waters. The Expert Working Group developed a straightforward process for establishing sustainable catch limits for all species, including those that lack sufficient scientific data. The Group recommended a process for determining the appropriate level of precaution to ensure that overfishing does not occur, and outlined procedures for estimating catch levels in data poor situations.

More details on this project are available here:

Final Reports:
Lenfest Research Series on Setting Annual Catch Limits (2007)
Setting Annual Catch Limits for U.S. fisheries: An Expert Working Group (2007)

Project: Industry Engagement with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment

Client: Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment

In May 2007 MRAG Americas was contracted by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment to investigate opportunities for industry involvement and to gauge the interest of stakeholders to forge relationships with the Gulf of Maine Council. We developed an approach to consult with industry members in multiple ways and communicate with various groups that represent industry members, both as a means for learning about the needs and wants of stakeholders and coastal communities and to discuss interest and opportunities for participation with the Council. The report outlines the analysis from those consultations and identified opportunities for engagement.

Final Report: Industry Engagement with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (2007)

Project: Evaluation of Rebuilding Plans for U.S. Fisheries, ten years later

Client: Lenfest Ocean Program

Although the rebuilding of overfished fish populations has been mandated by law since 1996, there has been mixed success at restoring fish stocks to healthy levels. In advance of the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Sevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, this project reviewed the rebuilding efforts of U.S. federally-managed fisheries and evaluated changes needed to rebuild depleted fisheries. In this project, we examined why, 10 years later, the law has had only a limited effect on improving fishery resources. A second phase of this study explored these plans in greater detail, using traditional modeling methods to guide improvements in the planning process and in implementation of the management and policy steps taken to rebuild overfished stocks.

More details on this project are available here:

Final Reports:
An Evaluation of Rebuilding Plans for U.S. Fisheries (2006)
A Review of Rebuilding Plans for Overfished Stocks in the United States: Identifying Situations of Special Concern (2006)

Publication: Rosenberg, A.A., J.H. Swasey and M. Bowman. 2006. Rebuilding US Fisheries: progress and problems. Front. Ecol. Environ. Vol 4(6): 303-308. (contact:


By | General, Version 2017

Established in 1996, we are a US-based independent consulting organization committed to the responsible, rational and sustainable utilization of aquatic resources. We undertake a diverse range of studies and projects focused on improving our ability to conserve aquatic ecosystems and manage the resources and fisheries they support. Much of this work has had a strong analytical basis using state of the art methodologies and novel approaches to underpin the advice and recommendations we provide to our clients. Our staff consists of a unique and highly motivated group of scientists and specialists with expertise across a range of scientific and technical disciplines. Our projects are distributed across four Client Service Divisions: the Fisheries Technical Division, covering various research and technical resource management projects; the Fisheries Certification Division, covering fishery certification and fishery improvement projects; the Seafood Sourcing Division, covering a range of supply chain analyses and audits; and the Fisheries Monitoring Division, covering operations and management for our observer and electronic monitoring programs. All of our divisions work in concert and overlap between divisions increases effective outputs. This structure provides a focused approach to delivering high quality products across a diverse range of specialist areas. Our capability to service an extensive array of resource management needs is further expanded through our network of associations and collaborations with internationally acclaimed experts from academic institutions and other private organizations worldwide. MRAG Americas is an accredited Conformity Assessment Body of the Marine Stewardship Council.


MRAG Americas has offices in St. Petersburg, Florida (headquarters and corporate services); Danvers, Massachusetts; Seattle, Washington; and Anchorage, Alaska.  Our clients include a broad range of government agencies, international organizations (World Bank, GEF, FAO), non-governmental organizations, foundations, and the fishing industry.  US government agency clients include NOAA Fisheries; National Ocean Service; National Academy of Sciences; Atlantic States and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commissions; and the Gulf, Caribbean, Pacific, and North Pacific Fishery Management Councils.


MRAG Americas is part of the family of MRAG companies that includes MRAG Ltd, headquartered in the UK and MRAG Asia Pacific based in Australia. We share in the global MRAG philosophy of providing the highest level of excellence in independent scientific and technical consulting on the management of aquatic resources.  Our expertise has been utilized for more than 30 years in designing and implementing integrated resource management systems in over 60 countries.  MRAG Americas offers a strong capability to respond rapidly and effectively to needs in the Americas region.