ICES Annual Science Conference 2021

Theme session G

Beyond recruitment correlations: accounting for environmental change in single-species advice

Tuesday 7 September
18:00-20:00 CEST

​​​​​Session keynote speaker Dr Anne Hollowed 

​​​​There is growing legislative and policy demand for single-species fisheries management advice that accounts for environmental change (e.g. recent changes to Canada's Fisheries Act, NOAA Fisheries' Stock Assessment Improvement Plan, the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive). It is critical to develop scientifically defensible methods to account for environmental change in single-species assessments.

While there has been extensive review of studies that incorporate environmental variables into stock-recruit relationships, there has been less work accounting for environmental effects on other aspects of stock productivity, such as growth and natural mortality. In addition, species distributional shifts may impact abundance indices and other data sources. Furthermore, there may be greater frequency of large, unexpected, or “black-swan" events. Single-species management advice should be robust to these types of uncertainty.

Simulation studies provide a critical means of testing whether fisheries management advice is improved by accounting for environmental variables, and for identifying assessment approaches that are robust to environmental uncertainty. This may include alternative stock assessment formulations, data sources, and/or harvest control rules. Development of visual tools for communicating trade-offs, risk, and uncertainty is also critical.

This session will review advances in methods for incorporating environmental considerations into single-species stock assessment advice, particularly around changes in fish stock productivity, and distribution. The following topics will be addressed:

  • Incorporating mechanistic hypotheses into stock assessments (e.g., direct coupling of predator or prey abundance with productivity parameters; impacts of changing stock distribution on catchability; model-based abundance indices);
  • Mechanism-free assessment or forecasting approaches (e.g., time-varying productivity parameters; empirical dynamic modelling; heavy-tailed or black-swan events); and
  • Simulation studies to identify management procedures that: 
    • meet conservation and fishery objectives
    • are robust to changes in stock productivity or distribution brought about by environmental change.

Presentations should clearly demonstrate how results are translated into single-species management advice.

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Robyn Forrest (Canada)
Meaghan Bryan (US)
Sean Anderson (Canada)

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Theme session G

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