Fish stock assessment under data limitations developing a new method based on a size-structured theoretical ecology framework

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis


Fish stock assessment is an integral part of every fisheries management system. Modern assessment methods require data about the fishery and the stock, such as catches, survey estimates, aging information and life history parameters, all of which is difficult and expensive to gather. However, the majority of global fish catches comes from species that lack an official assessment due to lack of data. That is true especially for small scale fisheries
and fisheries in developing countries. New methods are in need that require little amount of easily attainable data and provide scientific advice for fish stocks that are not assessed. The goal of the thesis is to develop a new data-limited stock assessment method that is: rooted in theoretical ecology, requires only information about the size composition of the catch or surveys (i.e. aging is not required), and does not require time-series. The method provides estimates of fishing mortality and the FMSY reference point, it is
tested and validated, and is implemented as software package making it easy to use by stakeholders of different levels. The basis of the method is a size-based theoretical ecology framework that describes exploited fish stocks. The model parameters correspond to Beverton-Holt life history invariants, which reduces the number of parameters and allows data-limited assessments to borrow information from data-rich stocks. The mathematical formulation of the single
species population dynamics is used in a maximum-likelihood optimisation framework to estimate model parameters. The data-limited method estimates at the same time the fishing mortality rate and the biological reference point FMSY . Minimum data requirements consist of a single size frequency distribution fromthe commercial catch or a scientific survey. If the total catch is known, important quantities about the stock (e.g. biomass of spawners, recruitment) can be quantified. The method is tested using simulated data
and validated using a subset of available data from data-rich fish stocks. The implementation of the method as a software package in the R programming language is publicly available
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources
Number of pages140
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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