Many different stock assessment models and software packages exist to assist managers in achieving their fisheries goals. These tools differ vastly in their complexity and data input requirements. Different tools are also applicable to different fisheries, depending on their ecology and intended management strategy. Fishery managers need to select tools from the wide range available that are appropriate to their capacity to collect the necessary data, and their ability to use the tools and implement the guidance produced. Choosing the best tool can be complicated by the wide range available, and the difficulty of comparing the costs and benefits.
Demand has been expressed during programme country visits for guidance in the latest stock assessment approaches to enable improved fisheries management.
The project developed a framework guide to the use of the FMSP stock assessment tools which have been developed by over 20 projects since 1992. These tools include new methodologies and software packages for assessing fish stocks and providing management advice, and comparisons of alternative management strategies. The FMSP tools have significant advantages over alternative products, including the use of non-equilibrium fitting methods, and the inclusion of parameter uncertainty and stock-recruit relationships. These features increase the likelihood of fisheries scientists providing appropriate advice to their managers, including precautionary management advice allowing for uncertainties in assessments.
In response to identified demand and to test the draft framework guide, the project also conducted a training course for FMSP software packages (LFDA, CEDA, Yield and PFSA) and other outputs in India. The software was presented within the overall framework for stock assessment and management developed in the guide.
The Framework guide to the use of FMSP stock assessment tools was developed as an FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, to be disseminated to the fisheries agencies globally covered by FAO's extensive network. The framework is broadly based on the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and emphasizes the important role of stock assessment in providing a scientific process for fishery management. It provides a basis for comparing and evaluating widely different stock assessment methodologies in terms of the inputs required, and the different parameters, indicators and reference points produced. The project supported the publication and global distribution of 3,000 copies of the paper, with a total print run of over 4,000 copies intended.
The training workshop has increased capacity of Indian scientists in undertaking stock assessments. It was attended by 20 Indian trainees, and also by two participants from Bangladesh, funded by the DFID Fourth Fisheries Project. It has improved the capacity of national fisheries agencies to use the tools, and to extend good management practices into the target geographic regions.
Uptake of the framework guide and the FMSP stock assessment tools will be further promoted by the development of additional materials in follow-on project R8468. Additional training courses in the use of FMSP software have also been held in East Africa, SE Asia and Bangladesh. Copies of the training materials may be downloaded from Project R8468 Publications Page.