Consequences of bias in age estimation on assessment of the northern stock of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) and on management advice
ICES Journal of Marine Science
The results of a pilot tagging study on hake (Merluccius merluccius), conducted in the northern part of the Bay of Biscay in 2002, indicate that growth rates for this stock may be currently underestimated because of biased estimates of age. The impact that such a bias may have on the stock dynamics and the trends of the key population parameters, recruitment, spawning-stock biomass (SSB), and mortality are investigated. Assuming new growth parameters, a new age-length key is derived and used to
... derived and used to produce and catch-at-age data and abundance indices, which are then used to assess the stock. Bias in estimating age affects the absolute levels of fishing mortality and stock biomass estimates, and also impacts the trend in SSB. However, trends in fishing mortality and recruitment are comparable, and the stock status with respect to precautionary reference points is broadly the same. As expected, the simulation also shows that the stock may be more reactive to changes in fishing levels, which affect medium-term forecasts. Long-term sustainable yields may also be impacted.