A Spatial Management Strategy Evaluation for the U.S. South Atlantic

Dr. Michael Wilberg, Associate Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science


OSSE (Observing System Simulation Experiments) and MSE (Management Strategy Evaluation) are approaches for testing potential systems using computer simulations prior to their implementation. They share an approach of using computer simulations to test the performance of complex data collection and fishery management systems. Our goal is to design a general approach for conducting computer simulation evaluations of fisheries management systems (observing, data processing, assessment modeling, and management decision making) for the U.S. South Atlantic region that would benefit from combining the experience and ideas developed in OSSE and MSE applications. Our primary goal in this application is to evaluate how spatial data collection and management can be modified to improve management outcomes. This project directly addresses NOAA’s strategic goal to “Protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources.”

The approach will be initially applied to red porgy (Pagrus pagrus) in the U.S. South Atlantic because its life history, data quality, and importance will allow us to develop biological models that are forced by the physical environment as predicted by an ocean circulation model. The underlying model of the population dynamics will incorporate the physics (for larval transport and temperature) and the biology of red porgy. Additionally, we may be able to use the physical model to influence fishing effort by including sea state as a forcing variable. Spatial sampling models will generate data sets that will be used by a stock assessment model to estimate stock status and catch advice. The catch advice will be implemented using spatial or non-spatial management actions, and performance of the system will be characterized using a variety of metrics such as assessment model accuracy, sustainable catch levels, population biomass, and probability of overfishing.