|Title||The influence of metrics for spawning output on stock assessment results and evaluation of reference points: An illustration with yellowfin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2019|
|Authors||Minte-Vera C.V, Maunder MN, Schaefer K.M, Aires-da-Silva A.M|
|Type of Article||Article|
|Keywords||fecundity; fish; Fisheries; impact; Integrated modelling; life-history; management; maturity; model; reference points; spawning; Stock-recruitment relationship|
Reference points are used to determine whether overfishing is occurring, a stock is overfished, or the abundance of the stock is approaching an undesirable level. Reference points are often classified as limit reference points, which indicate an undesirable state, or target reference points, which specify a desirable one. Limit reference points frequently indicate a state for which the reproductive potential of the stock is impacted, and are thus based on spawning output. Spawning output is also used in the stock-recruitment curve, which is a key component of stock-assessment models. We investigated the effect on stock assessment results of metrics of spawning output that are used either in the stock-recruitment relationship or to evaluate reference points. We use yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) in the eastern Pacific Ocean as an example. The metrics biomass of mature females and fecundity attribute higher reproductive potential to the older ages, while numbers of mature females and summary biomass attribute more to the younger ages. Both the stock assessment results and the evaluation of reference points are sensitive to the metric used. The most optimistic perceptions of stock status are obtained when using numbers of mature females, female summary biomass or summary biomass to evaluate the reference points. The choice of metric may be as important as the uncertainty about steepness of the stock-recruitment curve. Given the difficulty in determining the appropriate measure of spawning output and the fact that populations fluctuate naturally, it is recommended that fishing mortality-based reference points are given more consideration for management advice aiming to maintain stocks at desirable states (target reference points) and that harvest control rules based on both types of reference points be compared for their relative effectiveness in avoiding recruitment overfishing and achieving other fisheries objectives using Management Strategy Evaluation.