Data and time poverty in fisheries estimation: potential approaches and solutions

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The increasingly sophisticated methods developed for stock assessment are not always suited to data-poor fisheries. Data-poor fisheries are often low in value, so the researcher time available for their assessment is also small. The dual constraints of reduced data and reduced time make stock assessments for low-value stocks particularly challenging. Prior probability distributions are useful for transferring knowledge from data-rich to data-poor fisheries. When data are limited, it is important to make the most of what few data is available. However, fully understanding potential biases in data are just as important in the data-poor context as it is in data-rich fisheries. A key aspect of stock assessment is peer review. Providing a comprehensive, yet concise, set of diagnostics is crucial to a stock assessment where time is limited. Against the standards by which data-rich stock assessments are judged, stock assessments for data-poor stocks are likely to be found deficient. A key challenge is to maintain a balance between the opposing risks of inappropriate management “action” due to assessment inaccuracy, and inappropriate management “inaction” due to assessment uncertainty.

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