Workshop on guidelines and methods for the evaluation of rebuilding plans (WKREBUILD)

Alexander Kempf, Ashleen Benson, Brittany Beauchamp, Cecilia Pinto, Claus Reedtz Sparrevohn, Colm Lordan, David Miller, Edwin van Helmond, Henrik Mosegaard, Hugues Benoít, Kenny Coull, Laura Wise, Mark Payne, Martin Pastoors, Michael Gras, Michael Wall Andersen, Neil Campbell, Paul MacDonald, Polina Levontin, Ralf DöringRichard D. Methot, Sarah Millar, Steven Mackinson, Tomas Gröhsler, Valerio Bartolino, Vanessa Trijoulet, Yimin Ye

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The Workshop on guidelines and methods for the evaluation of rebuilding plans (WKREBUILD) chaired by Vanessa Trijoulet (Denmark) and Martin Pastoors (Netherlands) met from 24 to 28 February 2020. The workshop attracted 27 participants from the US, Canada, Europe and FAO.

When stocks are estimated to be below Blim1 and there is no perceived possibility of rebuilding above Blim within the time-frame of a short-term forecast, ICES has regularly recommended zero catch in combination with the development of a rebuilding plan.

A review was carried out on the international experience on the development, evaluation and implementation of rebuilding plans for fisheries management in the Northeast Atlantic and in other fora around the world. In the Northeast Atlantic, rebuilding plans have been implemented in the past (e.g. the cod recovery plans of the early 2000s) but ICES has played a limited role in evaluating the performance of such recovery plans and does not have the tools or criteria to evaluate such plans. Recently, when a rebuilding plan for herring in 6.a 7.bc was submitted to ICES for evaluation, ICES refrained from providing such an evaluation. In the US and Canadian approaches, the legal framework determines the triggering and required elements of rebuilding plans. Such a legal imperative does not exist in the Northeast Atlantic. Nevertheless, the US and Canadian experiences provided useful elements that could be included in establishing ICES approach to rebuilding plans.

Several case studies were presented on potential tools for the evaluation of rebuilding plans. Particular attention was given to evaluating options for harvest control rule options of such a plan. The tools focused mostly on short to medium term explorations of the probability of achieving a rebuilding of stocks. Because rebuilding plan evaluations need to be ready and available at short-notice when required, it was concluded that relatively standardized tools (i.e. packages or compiled code) to carry out such evaluations would be preferable over custommade evaluation tools. In addition, certain modelling considerations were highlighted as important such as realistic assumptions of productivity, uncertainty, bias in assessments and implementation error and the possibility of estimating the probability of achieving a rebuilding of stocks.

Criteria for the acceptability of rebuilding plans will require an agreed Limit Reference Point (LRP) for initiating a rebuilding plan, definition of targets for fishing mortality or stock biomass, time-frames and the acceptable probabilities whether the rebuilding targets have been achieved. All of these should take into account realistic levels of uncertainty and being consistent with international best (scientific) practices. Although it was recognized that Blim would be the most likely candidate LRP triggering a rebuilding plan, the current approach in ICES for the determination of Blim was questioned during the workshop because it requires a more or less subjective classification of the stock-recruitment pairs into different types. In other regions, the LRP is often set as a certain proportion of the SSB at maximum sustainable yield (BMSY), e.g. 40% BMSY. If changes in productivity have been experienced in recent years at these are taken into account when estimating MSY reference points, the proportion of BMSY approach would likely lead to greater changes in the estimated value of LRP than the current ICES procedures used to estimate Blim, which rely on stock-recruitment pairs or definition of the lowest observed biomass (Bloss). This could have a large impact on the rebuilding target for stocks that experience changes in productivity regimes. Some concerns were raised regarding the often small distance between Blim and MSY Btrigger2 reference points for ICES stocks in comparison to the distance between trigger and limit in other jurisdictions. MSY Btrigger could therefore represent a late trigger to start decreasing fishing mortality when SSB is decreasing. The workshop recommended a future workshop on the revision of the procedure to estimate reference points within the ICES framework.

An estimate of the minimum time (TMIN) by which rebuilding may be expected to be achieved, could be calculated by assuming zero catch and should be used as baseline for comparison with other rebuilding scenarios. The maximum time for rebuilding in the US and New Zealand is set to TMAX = 2 * TMIN or to TMIN plus one generation time(average length of time between when an individual is born and the birth of its offspring NRC (2014)). While the workshop did not arrive at an overall agreement on a default value for TMAX, it was suggested that TMAX = 2 * TMIN could be explored as a potential bounding on the rebuilding period, even though this should be subject to scientific analysis of potential effects on the stock in question.  
The workshop generated a guidance table summarizing the best practices for evaluation of rebuilding plans against the potential criteria of acceptability. The guidance table includes elements such as estimation of reference points, time-frames for rebuilding, rebuilding targets, handling uncertainties and bias, probability of achieving rebuilding targets and visualizing results. The workshop recommended that a follow-up workshop (WKREBUILD2) be organized for testing the guidelines with actual test cases, with the aim of defining more specific criteria and guidelines, i.e. learning by doing.

Some of the elements that were discussed in the workshop but that have not (yet) entered the guidelines for evaluation of rebuilding plans are socio-economic trade-offs (e.g. between fast and slow rebuilding), mixed fisheries aspects (e.g. unavoidable bycatch due to mixed fisheries) and elements in rebuilding plans other than the HCR part (e.g. monitoring to improve the knowledge base).

Most of the discussion at WKREBUILD was centred on stocks with analytical assessments (Category 1+2). Identifying when a data limited stock is in need of rebuilding (or has rebuilt) and how to evaluate rebuilding plan options for such stocks would likely require a separate process.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCopenhagen, Denmark
PublisherInternational Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
Number of pages79
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventWorkshop on guidelines and methods for the evaluation of rebuilding plans - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 24 Feb 202028 Feb 2020
SeriesICES Scientific Report


WorkshopWorkshop on guidelines and methods for the evaluation of rebuilding plans

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