In response to the need for a systematic review of the New England groundfish stock assessment process, the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute hosted the first in a series of workshops in early May. This workshop brought together scientists, fishermen, and NGOs from across New England to discuss the changing ocean environment and its impacts on fish stocks, groundfish stock assessments, and management.
Scientists presented data that highlighted the atmospheric, oceanic, and ecological changes to marine ecosystems in the region and their effect on the productivity, recruitment, and natural mortality of important fish stocks. Case studies from New England and beyond were used to review various methods used to account for these changes in science and management, and to pinpoint additional information needed to monitor the impact of these changes on fish stocks.
Following scientific presentations, the group collectively developed recommendations for future approaches to fishery science, management, and stock assessment methodology. A list of 10 recommendations were developed, and two key priorities were identified: the adoption of Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management and a more holistic Environmental Monitoring System, that has the ability to incorporate all available information. This system would also include broader ocean observations such as alternative survey methods, data collected by fishermen, and tagging data. Further recommendations will be made in the final two workshops of the series, 'Fishery Monitoring and Survey Selectivity' and 'Reference Points and Uncertainty Buffers', which are set to be held this summer and fall.