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Proceedings 2012/055

Proceedings of the National Workshop for Technical Expertise in Stock Assessment (TESA): Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) Reference Points and the Precautionary Approach when Productivity Varies; December 13-15, 2011

Chairpersons: D.E. Duplisea and N. Cadigan


The primary goal of the workshop was to detail problems with deriving maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and precautionary approach (PA) reference points (RP) for stocks with varying (i.e. non-stationary) productivity conditions or regimes. A secondary objective was to explore integrating MSY reference points and the PA such that management regimes neither collapse stocks nor forego unnecessary amounts of potential yield. The motivation for the workshop comes from the numerous stocks that are regularly assessed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) (e.g. Northern cod) in which data suggests there have been substantial changes in productivity processes and where there are frequent questions on the applicability of RP derived from the entire data set for the current conditions. Terms of reference for this workshop were drawn-up in the context of these goals and background (Annex 1).

The three day meeting consisted of two main parts: The first two days consisted primarily of presentations on individual contributions followed by discussions. The second part on the final day consisted of three breakout groups around three basic questions that arose from the previous days discussions and rose to prominence as key issues. The three questions were centred on the topics (1) when are regime-specific RPs appropriate, and what are the risks of not considering regime changes? (2) What MSY RP options are available that could guide DFO when implementing the PA for stocks under changing productivity? (3) What is the influence of process error on stochastic MSY reference point estimates?

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