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Status of Stocks & Multispecies Assessment Program

REFM Staff Participate in the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting

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REFM staff traveled to Quebec City, Canada, 18-21 August 2014 to   give presentations and engage in discussions at the American Fisheries Society (AFS)  annual meeting. Carey McGilliard (Status of Stocks & Multispecies Assessment (SSMA) program) gave a talk titled “Accounting for Scientific Uncertainty in Stock Assessments: an Exploration using Management Strategy Evaluation” in the session "The Next Generation of Stock Assessments."  In her presentation Carey explained that quantifying scientific uncertainty is a key part of providing scientific advice in fisheries management. She reported that management systems increasingly require that catch limits account for scientific uncertainty by specifying a buffer such that the catch limit is lower than that determined based on an assumption of perfect information. She described a “P* approach,” which is a method whereby a catch limit is specified such that the probability that a future fishing mortality rate (F) exceeds the F corresponding to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) (FMSY) remains at or below a pre-specified value (P*). She developed a management strategy evaluation to examine the performance of a “P* approach” that included accounting for model configuration uncertainty, with application to Alaska groundfish. Her results showed that including model configuration uncertainty about natural mortality better accounts for uncertainty in limit reference points, such as FMSY and FOFL. In addition, she found that accounting for even a small amount of model configuration uncertainty about natural mortality substantially changed the probability of overfishing associated with a given catch level.

Mei-Sun Yang (REEM program) presented the poster "Digital Images, a Stomach Examiner's Tool (SET) on Line" in the symposium "Community Ecology and Trophic Interaction of Fishes."  The poster showed that after 30 years of stomach contents processing, the REEM program has accumulated abundant taxonomical information that is useful for the stomach contents analysis. In addition, REEM program scientists have recorded the taxonomical information of whole specimens with digital cameras, as well as partially digested specimens, gill arches, vertebrae, postcleithrum, otoliths, telson of crustaceans, subopercle and preopercle of fish, and setae of polychaetes. With this information soon online , stomach examiners will be able to access taxonomical information fast and easily. The objective of the Stomach Examiner’s Tool (SET) website is to provide comprehensive information as a guide for stomach content examiners to identify items in fish stomachs. To date, there are 552 pictures on the SET online.

Liz Conners and Libby Logerwell (SSMA program) made presentations in the symposium “Marine Mammal and Fisheries Interactions : Management Challenges in a Changing World.” Liz’s talk was “Spatial Scale and Fish Movement As Key Factors for Interaction Between Marine Mammals and Commercial Fisheries.” She presented new results of simulation modeling of differing levels of spatial overlap between fish concentrations, fisheries, and a central-place predator (such as Steller sea lion) foraging. For static prey populations, she showed that localized depletions from fishing can affect predator foraging. With mobile prey populations, however, there were many conditions where no interaction occurs. Libby’s talk was titled “The Fishery Interaction Team (FIT): A Decade of Research on the Indirect Interactions Between Fisheries and Marine Mammals”. She described FIT’s major field efforts to investigate the localized impacts of commercial fishing on walleye pollock, Pacific cod and Atka mackerel. She explained that FIT field research to date indicates that competition between fisheries and higher trophic level predators such as Steller sea lions can occur but that issues of scale, fish movement, fish behavior, and experimental methodology need further attention. Furthermore, explicit links between fishing, predator foraging behavior and predator population parameters are lacking.

By Libby Logerwell

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