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A fisheries risk-assessment framework to evaluate trade-offs among management options in the presence of time-varying productivity

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Empirically based simulation models can help fisheries managers make difficult decisions involving trade-offs between harvests and maintaining spawner abundance, especially when data contain uncertainties. We developed such a general risk-assessment framework and applied it to chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) stocks in the Arctic–Yukon–Kuskokwim region of Alaska, USA. These stocks experienced low abundance in the 1990s, which led to declarations of economic disaster and calls for changes in harvest strategies. Our stochastic model provides decision makers with quantitative information about trade-offs among commercial harvest, subsistence harvest, and spawner abundance. The model included outcome uncertainty (the difference between target and realized spawner abundances) in the subsistence and commercial catch modules. We also used closed-loop simulations to investigate the utility of time-varying management policies in which target spawner abundance changed in response to changes in the Ricker productivity parameter (a), as estimated with a Kalman filter. Time-varying policies resulted in higher escapements and catches and reduced risk across a range of harvest rates. The resulting generic risk-assessment framework can be used to evaluate harvest guidelines for most salmon stocks.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada.

Publication date: 2012-02-20

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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