Enhancing industry input in stock assessments

Jonathan Labaree and Mary Hudson Gulf of Maine Research Institute

ABSTRACT

Stock assessments have become an increasingly contentious issue in New England, assessment results often differing from what fishermen experience on the water. This discrepancy has bred industry distrust in assessments, and caused tensions to rise.

Increasing process transparency and reconciling the gap between what fishermen see on the water and what science says is crucial for bolstering trust and confidence in stock assessments. Allowing more opportunity for industry input throughout the stock assessment process, for example when reviewing data from the trawl survey and vessel trip reports (VTRs), may help reduce this gap. Modifying the stock assessment process to incorporate such insight is crucial— however, we must first determine at what point in the process this is most useful (to scientists and industry), what data and observations can be used, and how it can be integrated.

Recognizing these needs, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center is working hard towards solutions. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute has been asked to aid in these efforts by reaching out to industry to involve their input in these matters, coordinating working meetings between industry and Center staff, and develop recommendations for the Science Center as they re- envision the stock assessment process.