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Flexible versus prescriptive - ASC talk on challenges of rebuilding fish stocks

​Dr. Ana Parma delivers presentation that, in spite of showing a more positive outlook for many fisheries, points to the pitfalls of prescriptive frameworks which have proven inadequate for certain fisheries.
Published: 16 September 2014

​Fisheries modelling, assessment, and management expert Dr. Parma, from the Centro Nacional Patagónico in Argentina, used her Tuesday morning lecture at the Annual Science Conference (ASC) to address the audience on various legal mandates and how they have become increasingly prescriptive, requiring more stringent adherence to benchmarks for tracking progress and forcing a reliance on inappropriate management methods.

She looked at the USA and the 2006 Magnuson–Stevens Act, which was passedfor the governance of federal fish stocks and analyzed by the National Research Centre (NRC) in terms of its effectiveness in helping to recover numbers of fish in various mid-Atlantic and New England stocks. She made the point that the prescriptive approach to trigger implementation of rebuilding plans is problematic because stock status is assessed with error.

She used an example of cod in the Georges Bank to illustrate the problem with retrospective assessment inasmuch as initial estimates of stock size used to set quotas often exceeded updated ones that came later. Another general limitation is that lack of flexibility has associated costs, especially in mixed fisheries, but trade-offs are not necessarily weighed up at the fishery level.

Dr. Parma then used the case of the southern bluefin tuna, heavily fished in the past but now less so, to explain how the process took on board different management procedures, adopting the Bali Management Procedure in 2011. Contrarily to the current framework, this one kept guidelines to a minimum and saw rebuilding targets and timeframes established after an iterative process and after consultations which looked at trade-offs – short-term risks and costs – and then, crucially, decided on rebuilding targets after.

The talk was wrapped up by Dr. Parma expressing that the situation is more severe for data-limited stocks.

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​​Dr. Ana Parma (on the right) after her talk with Begoñ​a Santos, the Spanish SCICOM member.

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Flexible versus prescriptive - ASC talk on challenges of rebuilding fish stocks

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