Improvement of the foundation for stock assessment for data limited stocks with importance for Danish fishery (39310)

Project Details


The aim of this project is to improve the knowledge basis, data, and methodology for providing robust stock assessment and short term forecast according to MSY for data limited fish stocks with importance for Danish commercial fishery.

A number of fish stocks in the Baltic, Skagerrak-Kattegat and North Sea area with importance for Danish commercial fishery either as target species, commercially important by-catch species, or as unintended by-catch species are data limited stocks with no analytical stock assessment. More than 60% of fish stocks that ICES gives advice on are category 3 and 4. These categories include stocks for which the data and knowledge are insufficient to conduct a full analytical assessment of their state and exploitation. Until now, ICES has not been able to assess their state relative to the objective of achieving MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) sustainability. A major task of fisheries management is broadening from the narrow analysis of few main commercial species toward accounting for by-catches, i.e. the great range of species and sizes of lesser importance caught at the same time in non-selective fisheries (mixed-fisheries). This unwanted part of catches is becoming politically important because it may trigger restrictive management decisions for the commercial fisheries, both as part of the ecosystem-based marine management (EU MSFD), and because of the potential of these species to become limiting for some fleets in the frame of the landing obligation (=discard ban) of the EU CFP, i.e. when a fishery can be closed because it has reached the authorized catch quantity (quota) of a low-value species even though it still has some quota left for more valuable commercial species (so-called “choke species” effect).

Tasks and Deliverables:
- Develop assessment and forecast models and methods for stocks in the categories 3-4 and integrate them as standard models and software in the ICES advisory framework in relation to method development and assessing data poor stocks in special working groups (ICES WKLIFE V-VI, ICES WKPROXY) and in standard stock assessment working groups covering the Skagerrak-Kattegat, Baltic Sea and North Sea areas (ICES WGNSSK, ICES WGBFAS).
- Apply the models to selected fish stocks with importance for Danish fishery with the aim of promoting analytical and benchmark assessments to assess stock status relative to MSY objectives. Application of these methods mean that the status of those category 3 and 4 stocks can be classified as desirable or undesirable in relation to MSY objectives, and the stocks can be lifted to category 2 or 1 stocks with analytical assessments. The stocks are selected in close collaboration and agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Food (several directorates), the fishing industry and associations (DF), NGO environmental stakeholders and Science (DTU Aqua).
- The work includes estimation of fish stock growth parameters, performing yield per recruit analyses, and conducting stock assessments with application of a stochastic stock production model and/or a length based stochastic assessment model, as well as where possible a stochastic age based VPA stochastic assessment model.
- Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) for selected stocks: Establishment of biological (biomass- or fishing mortality based) reference points for each of the selected stocks involving growth models and logistic models (ogives). MSE for establishing output-based harvest control rules according to short to medium term forecasts for the selected stocks. This includes provision and further development of model software to carry out MSE of the selected stocks.

This project is coordinated by DTU Aqua and funded by the Danish Ministry og Environment and Food (under Framwork Contract with DTU).

Research area: Fisheries Management
Research area: Marine Living Resources
Effective start/end date01/07/201501/03/2017