A Simulation-Based Evaluation of Commercial Port Sampling Programs for the Gulf and Atlantic Menhaden Fisheries

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


© 2020 American Fisheries Society. Biological data that are collected in commercial port sampling programs are a critical component of the assessment and management of Gulf Menhaden Brevoortia patronus and Atlantic Menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus. The menhaden port sampling program represents one of the longest continuous commercial sampling efforts in the United States; however, this sampling program has not been evaluated recently to determine whether the program adequately characterizes the size and age structure of the catch despite significant changes in the spatial extent and magnitude of the fisheries in the last three decades. We conducted a simulation study to evaluate current menhaden fishery sampling targets and to examine the relative performance of a suite of alternative targets. To simulate data collection, we conducted a bootstrap analysis of the observed port sampling data. These observations were resampled with replacement across a range of current and alternative combinations of number of trips and fish sampled per trip. At the current target for sampling intensity and allocation, the mean sample weight and proportions at age for ages 2 and 3 are well characterized in both the Gulf and Atlantic menhaden fisheries. The proportions of age‐1 fish in the catch differed by stock and region, with samples from the northern Atlantic regions displaying the greatest uncertainty overall. The proportions of age‐4 and older fish were poorly characterized in both fisheries, which is likely due to their rarity in the population (Gulf) and lack of spatial overlap between the fishery and the stratified distribution of menhaden by age along the coast (Atlantic). Our results indicate that reducing the number of fish that is sampled per trip from the current target of 10 to as few as four would have a minimal effect on estimates of mean size and proportions at age in the catch. Increasing the number of sampled trips will not greatly improve the characterization of catch size or age composition.

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North American Journal of Fisheries Management





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