Fish stock assessment and management

Fish stock assessment and management

Sustainable fisheries management is vital in maintaining healthy fish stocks. We’ve produced guidance on how stock assessment and management works.

Why sustainable fisheries management is important

Sustainable fisheries management aims to maintain healthy fish stocks over the long term. The implementation of responsible and sustainable fisheries management is central to the seafood industry’s social licence to operate. It’s also essential in safeguarding its future.

In recent years improvements in the sustainability of fisheries have been made due to developments in fish stock assessment and fisheries management practices. This requires scientific assessment, advice and agreement amongst various stakeholders.

It’s important that professionals across the UK seafood supply chain have an understanding of how fish stocks are assessed and how fisheries are managed for sustainability. This facilitates sustainable sourcing, informs approaches to corporate social responsibility and enables businesses to respond to consumer preferences for sustainability.

Photo of a shoal of fish underwater
Sustainable fisheries management aims to maintain healthy fish stocks over the long term

Understanding sustainable fisheries assessment and management

Fisheries assessment involves using scientific information to estimate the size of fish stocks and to provide guidance on the amount of fish which can caught to keep stocks at sustainable levels.

Fisheries management approaches are diverse. They define where fishing activity can take place, what types of fishing gear can be used and how much fish can be caught.

Many wild fish stocks migrate across national boundaries, making these stocks a common resource shared between States. Where fish stocks are shared, international agreement on management measures is needed and getting this can be challenging. It involves agreeing the total allowable catch (TAC) and deciding the share or quota of the TAC for each country or state.

We have produced a series of guides to explain these processes and they are available to download from the links below.

Our Overview of Sustainable Fisheries Assessment and Management introduces fisheries management, stock assessment and sustainable harvesting and how stocks with limited data are assessed.

Our Overview of Fisheries Management explains the political and science framework in which fisheries management operates.

Our Overview of Maximum Sustainable Yield explains fishing explains and maximum sustainable yield. This term refers to aiming to catch the maximum quantity of fish that can safely be removed from a stock, while also maintaining its capacity to produce sustainable yields in the long term.

We have also developed more in-depth documents with further information on stock assessment and management techniques. You can download these guides from the links below:

Understanding data-limited stock assessments

Full stock assessments use mathematical models of fish stocks. These models require extensive data on the growth and dynamics of stocks. Some fisheries lack the data required full mathematical models. However, for many of these stocks, there are other data sources available from both surveys and commercial catches. With the appropriate analysis, these data sources can be used to inform on stocks using data-limited assessment methods.

Over the past decade, there have been substantial advances in data-limited stock assessment methods. Much of this work has been led by the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES). We have participated in a series of international scientific workshops in which advances have been made.

We have produced guidance documents with information how fish stocks are assessed when there isn’t sufficient data available to use conventional models. They also cover how these methods have developed over the past decade. You can download these documents from the links below:

Get in touch

For further information on fish stock assessment and management or data limited fisheries please contact:

Bill Lart
Sustainability and Data Advisor
01472 252323
07876 035 729