Indicators for density and biomass of exploitable abalone – developing and applying a new approach
Most jurisdictions have developed and used various combinations of indicators in stock assessment and the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) setting of their abalone fishery. The use of fishery dependent indicators in stock assessments, from logbooks and GPS loggers, have been criticized for their potential to be biased and insensitive (‘hyper-stable’) because of commercial selection of all observations that are made. As a consequence, Fishery Independent Surveys (FIS) have also been used in stock assessment, with varying coverage in all state’s abalone fisheries. However, FIS have also been criticized for their large cost and considerable uncertainty about how representative and useful the data is for intensely spatially-structured abalone fisheries. This investment will review data available from GPS loggers, catch records and FIS in the Western Zone of Victoria to calculate density and biomass from different sources of data and the precision and statistical coherence of estimates compared. The comparisons will enable the development of criteria to improve design of FIS, logger programs and related observations, and recommendations and guidance on the use of indicators in fishery harvest strategies.
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