The training course line-up for 2017 is starting to fall into place, with confirmed offerings so far including abundance estimation from fish acoustics and management strategy evaluation (MSE).
The first course of the year, however, centres on the ICES fish stocks for which data and knowledge are insufficient to conduct a full analytical assessment of their state and exploitation. Known as category 3 and 4 stocks, these constitute over 30% of all stocks for which ICES provides advice. Length-based and catch and survey-based methods for providing reference points for these stocks emerged in 2015, and a year later these techniques were applied in order to classify the status of a small group of stocks relative to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) reference points.
This practice will be expanded to all category 3 and 4 stocks in 2017, with work to be carried out by the stock assessment expert groups. Training in the methods is therefore important for the members of these groups in order to learn the principles behind each method, the data and format, and how to run the code and interpret the results for advice.
The course will convene twice: the first, a day and a half instalment at the ICES Secretariat for stock assessment group chairs; the second, a two-day online module for stock assessors. During the meeting at ICES, taking place 25-26 January, materials and methods will be introduced as part of a full overview. For the second part, held as a web conference in February, students will learn in-depth proxy reference point methods.
Prior to the course, access will be given to a virtual research environment (made available by the BlueBRIDGE project) set up for use with all length-based methods and which will contain method code, data format, and example output files as well as provide a pre-set environment for running the code. ICES Technical Guidance on Proxy Reference Point Methodologies will also be published and made available. Students will also be able to use the www.stockassessment.org web interface.
Those interested in enrolling on the course should be able to create a length-frequency stock distribution using InterCatch as well as have some basic familiarity with the R data environment.
'ICES methods for setting proxy MSY reference points for stocks in categories 3 and 4' will be instructed by Casper Berg and Alexandros Kokkalis of DTU Aqua and Anne Cooper and Scott Large of ICES Secretariat. Participation is free of charge for ICES stock assessors and stock assessment expert group chairs.