Symposium offers information on data-poor fisheries

Deborah Mercy

Good fisheries management is essential to the Alaska economy and to the nation’s seafood supply. However, the status of over half of the fish stocks important to the nation is unknown.

In Alaska, data limitations affect management of commercial fisheries such as sharks, rays, octopus, scallops, some crabs and rockfish, as well as most recreational fisheries.

Scientists often feel they don’t have enough data to make good fisheries management decisions.

Responding to this need, Alaska Sea Grant at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is hosting the 30th Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium, titled “Tools and Strategies for Assessment and Management of Data-Limited Fish Stocks.”

“Tools and strategies are general approaches that can be used to mine the data that is available,” said symposium chair Terrance Quinn, professor in the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

More than 100 international scientists and fisheries managers will gather at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, May 12–15, 2015, to share the work they’ve done in addressing the problem of data-poor fisheries. Interspecies comparisons can shed light on why some populations might decline while others increase.

Subject areas will include types of new data, stock assessment methods, challenges in measuring stocks, social and economic considerations, strategies for managing mixed stock fisheries, and limited stocks management methods.

Many species that are data limited or data poor may be local and not commercially important. “Small fish — rather than fish of commercial size — may function more as a part of the ecosystem than have a direct economic impact,” said Quinn. “As we try to move toward an ecosystem approach to managing fisheries, we should know about all fish stocks and how they interact with other parts of the ecosystem.”

The symposium series is named for Lowell Wakefield in honor of his many contributions to Alaska’s fisheries. Wakefield is credited with modernizing Alaska’s red king crab fishing industry.

“What I hope will come out of the symposium is a synthesis of the work that is occurring on data-limited stocks and perhaps clarification of what is a data-limited stock,” said Quinn.

For more information on symposium speakers and the program, please see

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Terrance Quinn II, 907-796-5457 or Sue Keller, 907-474-6703.


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