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Incorporating Time-Varying Catchability into Population Dynamic Stock Assessment Models

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Catchability is an important parameter in many stock assessment models because it relates an index of abundance to stock size. We review the theory and evidence for time-varying catchability, its effects on stock assessment estimates, and methods to include time-varying catchability in stock assessments. Numerous studies provide strong evidence that time-varying catchability is common in most fisheries and many fishery-independent surveys and can be caused by anthropogenic, environmental, biological, and management processes. Trends in catchability over time can cause biased estimates of stock size and fishing mortality rates in stock assessment models that do not compensate for them. Methods that use descriptive and functional relationships have been developed to incorporate time-varying catchability in stock assessment models. We recommend that the default assumption for stock assessments should be that catchability varies over time and that multiple methods of including time-varying catchability should be applied. Additional studies are needed to determine relative performance of alternative methods and to develop methods for selecting among models.
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Keywords: catch per unit effort; catch rate; density-dependent catchability; index of abundance; relative abundance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Solomons, Maryland, USA 2: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA 3: National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami, Florida, USA 4: National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, RTR Unit at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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