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Managing data-poor fisheries

The Issue

The 1998 California Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) provides a guide for the California Department of Fish and Game as it manages coastal fisheries. A key requirement of the MLMA is the development of fishery management plans that are based on estimates of the abundance of a fished species and other types of data-intensive biological and socio-economic information. Unfortunately, essential biological and socio-economic information are lacking in California’s fisheries. This has created a bottleneck to MLMA implementation. New, less resource-intensive assessment methods and techniques are required to move the management process forward.

What Has ANR Done?

Cooperative Extension Sea Grant marine advisors worked with Fish and Game staff to sponsor a workshop to collect ideas about ways to manage fisheries for which little information is available. The workshop, titled, “Managing Data-Poor Fisheries: Case Studies, Models and Solutions,” was held December 1-4, 2008, in Berkeley, Calif., and consisted of presentations and discussions among international fishery scientists, resource managers, environmental organizations and fishermen. During the workshop, participants divided into small groups to evaluate the informational needs of selected California fisheries and provide ideas for fishery management. The workshop resulted in more than 400 specific ideas, as well as a smaller number of more general suggestions for Fish and Game. The general suggestions were evaluated by a larger audience using an online survey. In addition, a series of manuscripts that describe ways to address data-poor fisheries were submitted from national and international experts and discussed at the workshop. Selected manuscripts will be published in a special issue of American Fisheries Society’s online journal, Marine and Coastal Fisheries.

The Payoff

Workshop provides ideas for improved fisheries management

All manuscripts, workshop notes, and ideas will be available online and in a report presented to the California Department of Fish and Game. These materials address:
  • Alternative management strategies for data-poor fisheries
  • New analytical techniques for guiding management with minimal data
  • New techniques for collecting and integrating biological and socio-economic data
Survey results indicate that the information generated by this workshop will improve fisheries management in California.


Supporting Unit: Sea Grant Extension Program

Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz counties
Richard M. Starr, Selena McMillan,(831) 771-4442, cesantacruz@ucdavis.edu

Carolynn Culver, (805) 645-1469, csculver@ucdavis.edu

Caroline Pomeroy, (831) 763-8002, cmpomeroy@ucdavis.edu