Trade-offs for data-limited fisheries when using harvest strategies based on catch-only models

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2018Researchpeer-review


  • Author: Walsh, Jessica C.

    Simon Fraser University, Canada

  • Author: Minto, Coilín

    Galway - Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland

  • Author: Jardim, Ernesto

    European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute, Italy

  • Author: Anderson, Sean C.

    University of Washington, United States

  • Author: Jensen, Olaf P.

    Rutgers University, United States

  • Author: Afflerbach, Jamie

    University of California at Santa Barbara, United States

  • Author: Dickey-Collas, Mark

    International Council for the Exploration of the Sea

    Section for Ecosystem based Marine Management, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Kemitorvet, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Kleisner, Kristin M.

    Environmental Defense Fund, United States

  • Author: Longo, Catherine

    Marine Stewardship Council, United Kingdom

  • Author: Osio, Giacomo Chato

    European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute, Italy

  • Author: Selig, Elizabeth R.

    Gordon and Better Moore Center for Science, United States

  • Author: Thorson, James T.

    NOAA, United States

  • Author: Rudd, Merrill B.

    University of Washington, United States

  • Author: Papacostas, Katherine J.

    Gordon and Better Moore Center for Science, United States

  • Author: Kittinger, John N.

    Conservation International, United States

  • Author: Rosenberg, Andrew A.

    Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists, United States

  • Author: Cooper, Andrew B.

    Simon Fraser University, Canada

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Many of the world's fisheries are unassessed, with little information about population status or risk of overfishing. Unassessed fisheries are particularly predominant in developing countries and in small‐scale fisheries, where they are important for food security. Several catch‐only methods based on time series of fishery catch and commonly available life‐history traits have been developed to estimate stock status (defined as biomass relative to biomass at maximum sustainable yield: B/BMSY). While their stock status performance has been extensively studied, performance of catch‐only models as a management tool is unknown. We evaluated the extent to which a superensemble of three prominent catch‐only models can provide a reliable basis for fisheries management and how performance compares across management strategies that control catch or fishing effort. We used a management strategy evaluation framework to determine whether a superensemble of catch‐only models can reliably inform harvest control rules (HCRs). Across five simulated fish life histories and two harvest‐dynamic types, catch‐only models and HCR combinations reduced the risk of overfishing and increased the proportion of stocks above BMSY compared to business as usual, though often resulted in poor yields. Precautionary HCRs based on fishing effort were robust and insensitive to error in catch‐only models, while catch‐based HCRs caused high probabilities of overfishing and more overfished populations. Catch‐only methods tended to overestimate B/BMSY for our simulated data sets. The catch‐only superensemble combined with precautionary effort‐based HCRs could be part of a stepping stone approach for managing some data‐limited stocks while working towards more data‐moderate assessment methods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1130-1146
Publication statusPublished - 2018
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • catch‐only model, data‐limited, data‐poor, harvest control rule, management strategy evaluation, superensemble

ID: 159513660