Data-poor Fisheries Assessment

More than 90% of global fisheries are considered too small or data-poor for assessment with existing quantitative assessment models. With a series of groundbreaking studies, some still being published, Dr Prince has established fisheries can be assessed just with simple size studies slashing assessment costs by $100,000 to $million per stock.

The approach estimates the rate of spawning relative to unfished levels (spawning per recruit – SPR) rather than biomass trends, and incrementally adjusts fishing pressure to discover catch levels that stabilize stocks at management targets. Requiring only simple size studies the technique makes $5000 stock assessments possible, reducing a major impediment for data-poor fisheries. Serendipitously the new approach easily incorporates the management effects of Marine Protected Areas and facilitates implementing the Risk-Catch-Cost framework to fisheries management.

Funded by the David & Lucille Packard Foundation and The Nature Conservancy Dr Prince is working with the Marine Stewardship Council to establish a new certifiable standard for data-poor assessment, which they are implementing in case studies fisheries in every ocean basin.


Assessing Traditional Dugong Hunt, Torres Strait

In northern Australia the traditional owners of Torres Strait enjoy a continuing statutory Traditional Right to hunt the dugong (Sirenidae) but data on the hunt are sparse and stock status is uncertain. The project was to synthesise all available information and develop a most likely assessment in the form of interactive colour computer graphics software for interpretation by traditional hunters and their communities. The project involved gathering anecdotal information and assembling a plausible density dependence mechanism for dugong based on reproductive studies over a wide range of densities. The project was granted a privileged glimpse of the deep knowledge of dugong herd behaviour possessed by the Torres Strait hunters. It is hoped that the education provided by the rudimentary assessment in interactive computer software will facilitate local communities improving management and data collection.