Even though fisheries research is traditionally considered a branch of life-sciences and it heavily builds on the principles of population ecology, it has developed surprisingly independently from fundamental ecological and biological research. In practice, models applied to estimate fish stock sizes and future stock development under alternative fishing strategies (so called fisheries stock assessment) are often biologically fairly unrealistic. Fisheries scientists tend to argue that things are complicated enough without additional layers of biological complexity in predictions, but frequently seen fish stock collapses and slow recovery from overfishing suggest that stock assessment models are not able to capture features fundamentally affecting fish population dynamics. This has lead to increasing interest among fisheries scientists to develop stock assessment models to be biologically more realistic.
The review article by Kuparinen et al. (in press) looks into the biological realism of fisheries stock-assessment models and, on the other hand, drivers of fish population dynamics from the perspectives of life-histories and population ecology. As such, the article provides an efficient summary of the state-of-art stock assessment methodology and its biological assumptions and shortcomings. However, the article goes beyond current modeling practices and sketches ways to incorporate biological features and processes to the Bayesian hierarchical stock assessment modeling framework.
Longest article I have ever written, but also a long-term dream was fulfilled in the beginning of the ‘conclusions’ section –a citation to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ”Logical-Philosophical Treatise”.
Kuparinen A, Mäntyniemi S, Hutchings JA, Kuikka S. Increasing biological realism of fisheries stock assessment: towards hierarchical Bayesian methods. Environmental Reviews (in press)