Data limited fisheries

Data limited fisheries are those fisheries where stock assessments are not feasible, yet they provide continuing yields for fisheries.

However, for a variety of different reasons smaller or artisanal fisheries may lack the manpower, revenue or resources to carry out detailed stock assessments. Such fisheries are known as Data Limited.

Although such fisheries may lack the data necessary to demonstrate sustainable operation, it is possible that they may still be operating sustainably.  Those fisheries which don't keep track of their fish stocks risk both marginalisation and overexploitation - which means new ways of demonstrating sustainable practice are required.

A number of new risk assessment methods have been developed in recent years, with the intention of providing data deficient fisheries with alternative ways of assessing their impacts on stocks and ecosystems.

Since 2010 Seafish has been involved in the development of ecological risk assessment methods designed to establish priorities for further assessment. Seafish has been actively involved in the process aimed at developing a reliable data limited stock methodology through participation in the ICES WKLIFE series of workshops, the most recent of which was held in October 2016, which developed the ICES data limited assessment method, which has been used to provide advice on 163 (64%) of the 254 stocks assessed by ICES in 2014.
 
Project Inshore has used the Marine Stewardship Council's pre-certification assessment methods to map all English inshore fisheries many of which are data limited and developed sustainability 'roadmaps' for them to help secure seafood supplies from these traditional inshore fleets. The online tool RASS (Risk Assessment for Sourcing Seafood) aimed at enabling buyers to assess risk when sourcing seafood is able to assess data limited stocks' risk using its scoring methodology.

Seafish facilitated a Data Deficient Fisheries panel at the Seaweb Seafood Summit in Malta on Wednesday 3 February 2016. A number of new risk assessment methods have been developed in recent years, with the intention of providing data deficient fisheries with alternative ways of assessing their impacts on stocks and ecosystems. The aim of the session was to explore these methods and to share knowledge to allow for increased data collection and to move more fisheries towards 'data rich'. The session was facilitated by Phil MacMullen, Seafish and there were four speakers: Simon Jennings, Cefas; Tom Pickerell, Seafish; Stewart Crichton, Orkney Fisherman's Society and Dawn Dougherty, SNAP Data Limited Fisheries Working Group, The Nature Conservancy. The presentations can be downloaded below.

For further information please contact Bill Lart.