Training courses

ICES methods for setting proxy MSY reference points for stocks in categories 3 and 4

​​​​​​​​​​25–26 January 2017
ICES Secretariat, Copenhagen, Denmark

14–15 February 2017
Online course

​​Please note that this course is now full. We are no longer accepting applications for this course. ​​​​​​​​​​​​

The objective of this course is to enable stock assessors and users of ICES advice to understand the underlying principles of each method, the required data and format, as well as how to run the code and interpret the results for use in ICES advice.

Part I: 25–26 January 2017
1.5 days in person for ICES stock assessment Expert Group Chairs at the ICES Secretariat. 

This part introduces the course material and methods.  The instructors will provide a half day presentation with Q&A at the conclusion of WGChairs 2017. The following full day will be an overview of the methods, assumptions, data needs, methods application, and how to incorporate information into the ICES Advice. The course will begin at 2.0​0pm and end at 5:00 pm on the second day.

Part II: 14–15​ February 2017 online course
2 days online course for ICES stock assessors.

The second part provides in depth methods training for proxy reference points to stock assessors working with ICES category 3 and 4 stocks. In this two-day online course students and instructors will participate via web-conference in an effort to reduce costs for participants. The course will begin at 9:00am and end at 6:00 pm.


ICES provides advice on fishing opportunities for more than 200 stocks and strives to base this advice on stock status relative to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) objectives. More than 30% of stocks ICES gives advice on have insufficient data and knowledge to conduct a full analytical assessment of their state and exploitation (ICES category 3 and 4 stocks). 

Methods to provide reference points for such stocks are nascent and are new to most in the scientific community. ICES began to develop methods in 2015 (WKLIFE V) and applied these methods to a small group of stocks via a workshop (WKProxy) to classify the status of category 3 and 4 stocks relative to MSY reference points for 2016. In 2017, ICES will apply these methods for all category 3 and 4 stocks with assessments that should be updated in 2017 (see ACOM ToRs for 2017 ). 

This work will be done in the ICES stock assessment Expert Groups and as such, training is needed. To accomplish this ICES objective in an effective and efficient manner, ICES stock assessment Expert Group chairs, stock assessors and staff will need training in the methods and how to apply them, which this course will provide.​


Ability to create a length-frequency distribution for a stock from InterCatch download and some very basic familiarity with R for using the length-based methods. A virtual research environment will be available for ICES methods using R; which should resolve many technical issues for all levels of R users and enable an effective learning environment for students.

ICES uses two major categories of methods for setting proxy MSY reference points: (1) length-based methods, and (2) catch and survey-based methods. The Secretariat instructors are setting up a virtual research environment for use with all length-based methods. This will provide an environment with the method code, data format, example output files, as well as a pre-set environment for running the code. Access to the VRE platform will be given prior to the course dates.

The ICES Technical Guidance on Proxy Reference Point Methodologies will provide in-depth information on the methods and how to interpret the results. This will be published prior to the course and be available to all participants.

The DTU Aqua instructors have developed, which houses SAM and SPiCT. Participants will be given access to this web interface for running SPiCT and accessing examples. The SPiCT source code is open source and distributed as an R package, so it is also possible to run SPiCT with or without using the web interface.

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​Anne Cooper,  ICES Secretariat

​Scott Large, ICES Secretariat

Casper Berg, DTU Aqua

Alexandros Kokkalis, DTU Aqua


​No cost for ICES stock assessors, stock assessment Expert Group Chairs and ICES Secretariat staff

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ICES methods for setting proxy MSY reference points for stocks in categories 3 and 4

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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