The Annual Economic Survey of Federal Gulf Shrimp Permit Holders: Report on the Design, Implementation, and Descriptive Results for 2006

Liese, Christopher and Travis, Michael D. and Pina, Diana and Waters, James R. (2009) The Annual Economic Survey of Federal Gulf Shrimp Permit Holders: Report on the Design, Implementation, and Descriptive Results for 2006. Miami, FL, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service/Southeast Fisheries Science Center, (NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC, 584)

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This technical memorandum documents the design, implementation, data preparation, and descriptive results for the 2006 Annual Economic Survey of Federal Gulf Shrimp Permit Holders. The data collection was designed by the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center Social Science Research Group to track the financial and economic status and performance by vessels holding a federal moratorium permit for harvesting shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico. A two page, self-administered mail survey collected total annual costs broken out into seven categories and auxiliary economic data. In May 2007, 580 vessels were randomly selected, stratified by state, from a preliminary population of 1,709 vessels with federal permits to shrimp in offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The survey was implemented during the rest of 2007. After many reminder and verification phone calls, 509 surveys were deemed complete, for an ineligibility-adjusted response rate of 90.7%. The linking of each individual vessel’s cost data to its revenue data from a different data collection was imperfect, and hence the final number of observations used in the analyses is 484. Based on various measures and tests of validity throughout the technical memorandum, the quality of the data is high. The results are presented in a standardized table format, linking vessel characteristics and operations to simple balance sheet, cash flow, and income statements. In the text, results are discussed for the total fleet, the Gulf shrimp fleet, the active Gulf shrimp fleet, and the inactive Gulf shrimp fleet. Additional results for shrimp vessels grouped by state, by vessel characteristics, by landings volume, and by ownership structure are available in the appendices. The general conclusion of this report is that the financial and economic situation is bleak for the average vessels in most of the categories that were evaluated. With few exceptions, cash flow for the average vessel is positive while the net revenue from operations and the “profit” are negative. With negative net revenue from operations, the economic return for average shrimp vessels is less than zero. Only with the help of government payments does the average owner just about break even. In the short-term, this will discourage any new investments in the industry. The financial situation in 2006, especially if it endures over multiple years, also is economically unsustainable for the average established business. Vessels in the active and inactive Gulf shrimp fleet are, on average, 69 feet long, weigh 105 gross tons, are powered by 505 hp motor(s), and are 23 years old. Three-quarters of the vessels have steel hulls and 59% use a freezer for refrigeration. The average market value of these vessels was $175,149 in 2006, about a hundred-thousand dollars less than the average original purchase price. The outstanding loans averaged $91,955, leading to an average owner equity of $83,194. Based on the sample, 85% of the federally permitted Gulf shrimp fleet was actively shrimping in 2006. Of these 386 active Gulf shrimp vessels, just under half (46%) were owner-operated. On average, these vessels burned 52,931 gallons of fuel, landed 101,268 pounds of shrimp, and received $2.47 per pound of shrimp. Non-shrimp landings added less than 1% to cash flow, indicating that the federal Gulf shrimp fishery is very specialized. The average total cash outflow was $243,415 of which $108,775 was due to fuel expenses alone. The expenses for hired crew and captains were on average $54,866 which indicates the importance of the industry as a source of wage income. The resulting average net cash flow is $16,225 but has a large standard deviation. For the population of active Gulf shrimp vessels we can state with 95% certainty that the average net cash flow was between $9,500 and $23,000 in 2006. The median net cash flow was $11,843. Based on the income statement for active Gulf shrimp vessels, the average fixed costs accounted for just under a quarter of operating expenses (23.1%), labor costs for just over a quarter (25.3%), and the non-labor variable costs for just over half (51.6%). The fuel costs alone accounted for 42.9% of total operating expenses in 2006. It should be noted that the labor cost category in the income statement includes both the actual cash payments to hired labor and an estimate of the opportunity cost of owner-operators’ time spent as captain. The average labor contribution (as captain) of an owner-operator is estimated at about $19,800. The average net revenue from operations is negative $7,429, and is statistically different and less than zero in spite of a large standard deviation. The economic return to Gulf shrimping is negative 4%. Including non-operating activities, foremost an average government payment of $13,662, leads to an average loss before taxes of $907 for the vessel owners. The confidence interval of this value straddles zero, so we cannot reject, with 95% certainty, that the population average is zero. The average inactive Gulf shrimp vessel is generally of a smaller scale than the average active vessel. Inactive vessels are physically smaller, are valued much lower, and are less dependent on loans. Fixed costs account for nearly three quarters of the total operating expenses of $11,926, and only 6% of these vessels have hull insurance. With an average net cash flow of negative $7,537, the inactive Gulf shrimp fleet has a major liquidity problem. On average, net revenue from operations is negative $11,396, which amounts to a negative 15% economic return, and owners lose $9,381 on their vessels before taxes. To sustain such losses and especially to survive the negative cash flow, many of the owners must be subsidizing their shrimp vessels with the help of other income or wealth sources or are drawing down their equity. Active Gulf shrimp vessels in all states but Texas exhibited negative returns. The Alabama and Mississippi fleets have the highest assets (vessel values), on average, yet they generate zero cash flow and negative $32,224 net revenue from operations. Due to their high (loan) leverage ratio the negative 11% economic return is amplified into a negative 21% return on equity. In contrast, for Texas vessels, which actually have the highest leverage ratio among the states, a 1% economic return is amplified into a 13% return on equity. From a financial perspective, the average Florida and Louisiana vessels conform roughly to the overall average of the active Gulf shrimp fleet. It should be noted that these results are averages and hence hide the variation that clearly exists within all fleets and all categories. Although the financial situation for the average vessel is bleak, some vessels are profitable. (PDF contains 101 pages)

Item Type: Monograph or Serial Issue
Title: The Annual Economic Survey of Federal Gulf Shrimp Permit Holders: Report on the Design, Implementation, and Descriptive Results for 2006
Personal Creator/Author:
Liese, Christopher
Travis, Michael D.
Pina, Diana
Waters, James R.
Series Name: NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC
Number: 584
Date: 2009
Publisher: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service/Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Place of Publication: Miami, FL
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Fisheries
Item ID: 2106
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 19 May 2009 19:02
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 19:39

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