Commercial fishing depends on specialized infrastructure (e.g., docks, processing facilities, ice houses). However, analysis of the changing locations and uses of these facilities is limited, particularly in North American fisheries economics. (A notable exception is Watson Johnsons 2012 related analysis of landings patterns following the 2003 buyback of ground fishing rights). Existing analysis is usually grounded in aligned disciplines (e.g., anthropology, sociology), and focused on the impact of issues such as gentrification (Colburn Jepson, 2012; Jacob et al, 2010), climate change (Colburn et al 2016), or hurricane impact (Ingles, 2007; Steanes Padgett, 2011) on infrastructure and communities.
One reason why economic analysis of fishing infrastructure lags is the poor data availability. For example, while Georgias fishing industry landed over eleven million pounds of seafood, worth $16.8 million dollars in 2017 (GA DNR 2018), the last time a comprehensive dock census was completed in 1975 (Nix et al, 1975), over 40 years ago. Without these basic current data, analysis of local commercial fishing economic conditions is problematic at best.
This study presents the results of a longitudinal analysis of the changes in conditions, uses, and locations of commercial fishing infrastructure between 1975 and 2019. All locations documented in 1975 were visited, geocoded, and conditions (including vessel usage, facility availability, etc.) documented. This was supplemented by title searches, regulatory records, interviews with facility owners (when possible), and other primary and secondary documentary searches. The result is a spatial and economic analysis showing the shifting pattern of fishing industry activity and infrastructure use over the last 40+ years. Implications for both analysis of the Georgia seafood industry, and for expanding this type of analysis across broader geographic areas are drawn.