Management Strategy Evaluation and Management Procedures: Tools for Rebuilding and Sustaining Fisheries
Fisheries management is complicated in nearly all cases by a high degree of uncertainty about the current state and expected growth of fish stocks and about the economic and social factors that affect the desirable harvest levels. Even for fisheries with excellent data collection programs, scientific surveys and sophisticated assessments, the estimates of catch levels that will maintain healthy fisheries or rebuild depleted ones are often far from accurate. Consequently recommended catch levels often fluctuate more than necessary in response to error in assessments rather than true stock variability and frequently react too slowly due to lags in data collection, assessment and implementation. Overly optimistic estimates of stock size and future growth have often led to allowing catch levels that undermine rebuilding. Fishery management strategies also rarely include specific objectives developed with stakeholder involvement which can undermine stakeholders‘ support for conservation even when it may be in their best interest. In this paper I discuss an approach for evaluating and implementing fishery management strategies known as management strategy evaluation (MSE), also sometimes referred to as the management procedure (MP) approach that is designed to identify and operationalise strategies for managing fisheries that are robust to several types of uncertainty and capable of balancing multiple economic, social and biological objectives. When implemented correctly an MSE should result in clear and measurable objectives and a robust process for achieving them that fishery managers and stakeholders have jointly developed and agreed to. I review several examples of MSEs that have been used to evaluate, and in some cases implement, rebuilding strategies for overfished fisheries. These case studies demonstrate how the MSE approach has been applied and some of its advantages and limitations
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