Can stock–recruitment points determine which spawning potential ratio is the best proxy for maximum sustainable yield reference points?

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The approach of examining scatter plots of stock–recruitment (S–R) estimates to determine appropriate spawning potential ratio (SPR)-based proxies for FMSY was investigated through simulation. As originally proposed, the approach assumed that points above a replacement line indicate year classes that produced a surplus of spawners, while points below that line failed to achieve replacement. In practice, this has been implemented by determining Fmed, the fishing mortality rate that produces a replacement line with 50% of the points above and 50% below the line. A new variation on this approach suggests FMSY proxies can be determined by examining the distribution of S–R points that are above or below replacement lines associated with specific SPRs. Through both analytical calculations and stochastic results, we demonstrate that this approach is fundamentally flawed and that in some cases the inference is diametrically opposed to the method's intended purpose. We reject this approach as a tool for determining FMSY proxies. We recommend that the current proxy of F40% be maintained as appropriate for a typical groundfish life history.

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