How fisher behavior can bias stock assessment: Insights from an agent-based modeling approach

Steven Saul, Elizabeth N. Brooks, David Die

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations


    During stock assessment, fishery-dependent observations are often used to develop indices of abundance or biomass from catch per unit of effort (CPUE) and contribute catch at size or age information. However, fisher behavior, rather than scientific sampling protocols, determines the spatial and temporal locations of fishery-dependent observations. As a result, trends from fishery-dependent data may be a function of fishing activity rather than fish population changes. This study evaluates whether data collected from commercial fishing fleets in the Gulf of Mexico are representative of trends in fish population size. A coupled bioeconomic agent-based model was developed to generate simulated fishery data, which were used to populate an age-structured stock assessment. Comparison of stock assessment results with simulated fish population dynamics showed that management advice from assessment models based on fishery-dependent data could be biased. Assessment of fish with small home ranges harvested by fishing fleets that frequent the same fishing grounds could cause overestimation of fishing mortality. Not accounting for the spatial structure of the fishers or fish can cause biased estimates of population status.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1794-1809
    Number of pages16
    JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
    Issue number11
    StatePublished - 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Aquatic Science


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