Fisheries Department of Western Australia and Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean conduct data-limited workshop

Artisanal catch. Photo by Australa's Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Artisanal catch. Photo by Australia’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

On September 4, 2019, the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean research initiative at the University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development organized a data-limited stock assessment workshop for fisheries researchers and managers of the local state government.

The workshop was led by long-term Sea Around Us research partner Dr. Rainer Froese, Senior Scientist at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research (GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany. Dr. Froese, who was visiting UWA for the annual FishBase symposium, is a widely recognised world leader in developing and applying data-limited models to assess fish and marine invertebrate stocks. Data-limited conditions, unfortunately, characterize the vast majority of fisheries around the world, including numerous fisheries in Western Australia.

Rainer Froese. Photo by Oceana.

Rainer Froese. Photo by Oceana.

During the daylong workshop, Dr. Froese presented recently updated and improved versions of two of the models developed and tested by him and his collaborators, relying on catch data and resilience, and length-frequency data, respectively. These models use the most basic fisheries data that are most widely available around the world, namely catch data and length measurements of the catch, to assess the overall biomass status and exploitation levels of fished stocks with regards to the Maximum Sustainable Yield, as legally required by international law and many national legal instruments.

After a morning of explanation and demonstration of the models and their recent refinements, the staff of DPIRD engaged in a hands-on session, applying these models to data collected by the department for several stocks along the coast of Western Australia for which the department has management responsibility.

The workshop was held at the Department’s research facility in Hillarys and was attended by 15 fisheries specialists responsible for monitoring and assessing stocks of marine life that are commercially and recreationally important in Western Australia. Following the workshop, the DPIRD will incorporate these stock assessment tools into the toolbox utilized to assess marine stocks in Western Australia.

This initiative was part of an ongoing process to strengthen collaboration between Western Australia fisheries scientists and fisheries researchers from the Sea Around Us – Indian Ocean at UWA.