Evaluating alternative management strategies for bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, in the Indian Ocean
Keywords:Thunnus obesus, management strategy, harvest control rule, Monte Carlo simulation, Indian Ocean, age-structured production model
Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) support a large commercial fishery in the Indian Ocean. However, explicit management strategies and harvest control rules are yet to be developed for the management of this fishery. We used a stochastic age-structured production model as an operating model to evaluate several potential management strategies under different assumptions of stock productivity. Five management strategies—constant fishing mortality, constant catch, quasi-constant catch, constant escapement, and status-dependent strategies—were evaluated and compared using the performance indicators including average catch, average spawning stock biomass, variation in catch, average fishing mortality and lowest biomass during the time period considered in the simulation. This study shows that (1) for the constant catch strategy, an annual catch of 90000 t would result in a low risk of stock being overfished while obtaining a stable catch; (2) for the constant fishing mortality strategy fishing mortality of 0.3 per year could yield a higher catch, but might have a high probability (64%) of stock dropping below the spawning stock biomass (SSB) that could achieve maximum sustainable yield (SSBmsy); and (3) for the quasi-constant catch strategy an annual catch of 110000 t was sustainable if the current SSB was higher than SSBmsy. Constant escapement and status-dependent strategies were robust with respect to different levels of virgin recruitment and steepness. This study suggests that it is important to incorporate uncertainties associated with key life history, fisheries and management processes in evaluating management strategies.
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