Estimating Fmsy from an ensemble of data sources to account for density dependence in Northeast Atlantic fish stocks

Henrik Sparholt*, Bjarte Bogstad, Villy Christensen, Jeremy Collie, Rob van Gemert, Ray Hilborn, Jan Horbowy, Daniel Howell, Michael C. Melnychuk, Søren Anker Pedersen, Claus Reedtz Sparrevohn, Gunnar Stefansson, Petur Steingrund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A new approach for estimating the fishing mortality benchmark Fmsy (fishing pressure that corresponds to maximum sustainable yield) is proposed. The approach includes density-dependent factors. The analysis considers 53 data-rich fish stocks in the Northeast Atlantic. The new Fmsy values are estimated from an ensemble of data sources: (i) applying traditional surplus production models on time-series of historic stock sizes, fishing mortalities, and catches from the current annual assessments; (ii) dynamic pool model (e.g. age-structured models) estimation for stocks where data on density-dependent growth, maturity, and mortality are available; (iii) extracts from multispecies and ecosystem literature for stocks where well-tested estimates are available; (iv) the “Great Experiment” where fishing pressure on the demersal stocks in the Northeast Atlantic slowly increased for half a century; and (v) linking Fmsy to life history parameters. The new Fmsy values are substantially higher (average equal to 0.38 year−1) than the current Fmsy values (average equal to 0.26 year−1) estimated in stock assessments and used by management, similar to the fishing pressure in the 1960s, and about 30% lower than the fishing pressure in 1970–2000.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfsaa175
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Density dependent
  • Ecosystem
  • Fmsy fisheries
  • Meta-analysis
  • Management

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