New study reveals why some fisheries are formally assessed and others are not

Catch limits are set for fisheries in the U.S. based on formal fisheries stock assessments: complex models that seek to explain all the available data and make forecasts, similar to the methods used for weather forecasts. However, because there is a shortage of both data and trained scientists, not all fisheries can be assessed every year. A new study finds that assessments are conducted on 59% of fisheries within fisheries management plans, but only 13% of fisheries outside management plans. Since assessments are more common for large-volume and high-priced fisheries, though, almost all (77-100%) of the catch in the regions examined came from assessed fisheries. Projections of the rate at which fisheries are assessed for the first time, suggest that continued but slower increases in the proportion assessed should be expected in the future, unless funding for training of stock assessment scientists is increased. The new work was conducted by Philipp Neubauer, SAFS research scientist Michael Melnychuk, and NOAA scientists James Thorson, Rick Methot and Kristan Blackhart, and appears in the journal PLoS One.

(a) Total number of fisheries in each of four U.S. regions; (b) proportion of fisheries that are assessed in each region; and (c) proportion of catches in each region coming from assessed fisheries.
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