ICES Annual Science Conference 2018

Theme session J

Survey data products for stock and ecosystem assessments: Challenges and future directions

Stock and ecosystem assessments rely heavily on abundance indices and other data products from surveys using a variety of observation methods, including egg sampling, trawling, acoustics, and video. In Europe and elsewhere an extensive coordinated survey programme has been put into place to collect these data. Recently assessment methods have been evolving rapidly, leading to the need for a wider range of information, as well as new methods for data use. 

For a number of stocks the weight given to survey indices in the assessment model is rather low compared to commercial landings, which raises questions of potential mismatch between models and survey coverage or designs, lack of understanding of survey catchability and its variability, or issues with other data inputs. Thus, new approaches may be required for treating survey data, or even how the surveys are run (design, parameters) to improve their usefulness in assessments.

Another major challenge and emerging field for surveys is obtaining abundance indices for species that require multiple surveys or survey methods to cover the full extent of their distribution. This happens when stocks are distributed across multiple countries and surveyed by multiple national surveys, stocks are found across multiple habitats and require habitat specific survey methods, vertical distribution requires sampling with trawls and acoustics, different life stages require different methods, and survey methodologies such as gears, vessels or sampling designs change through time. These cases likely encompass most commercial species.

Ecosystem assessments have their own set of requirements for survey derived data products. As this field develops, the need for standardized survey data treatment methods, defining best practice guidelines and more fundamentally evaluating whether survey products are fit for purpose arises.

To review issues and explore solutions for improving the usefulness of survey products, papers are welcome on the following topics based on empirical data or simulation studies: 

  • Evaluation of the performance of survey products for current stock and ecosystem assessment methods and potential improvements
  • Survey designs for improved survey products (precision, cost efficiency)
  • New models for including survey products in stock and ecosystem assessments
  • Impact of survey and sampling designs on abundance indices, biological parameters  and ultimately stock and/or ecosystem assessment results​
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Verena Trenkel (France)
Sven Kupschuss (United Kingdom)​
Stan Kotwicki (USA)
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Theme session J

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