Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Chair

Dr. Chester F. Rakocinski

Committee Chair Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Robert T. Leaf

Committee Member 2 Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Joseph R. Hendon

Committee Member 3 Department

Ocean Science and Technology

Abstract

Red Drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, are highly sought after by sport fishermen in Mississippi coastal waters. In 2016, Mississippi anglers made over 180,000 fishing trips targeting Red Drum, making it the second most targeted marine species. The current Fishery Management Plan of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, prohibits harvest of Red Drum in federal waters. Monitoring of the stock in Mississippi state waters occurs at sites that are almost exclusively estuarine, using gear types selective for juvenile fish. Additional samples come from the for-hire-industry that typically targets larger Red Drum. This project’s goal was to target age three to five-year-old Red Drum to investigate any bias in some precautionary reference point estimates potentially introduced by relatively small numbers of samples in that age range. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine if estimates of Spawning Stock Biomass Per Recruit (SSBPR) and Escapement Rate (ER) were impacted by the addition of length-at-age data for Red Drum collected by additional methods. Estimates of SSBPR and ER made with model parameters determined from previously collected data were compared to these estimates that include the additional data. I found that the mean SSBPR estimates were significantly lower (p < 0.05) prior to the inclusion of the additional data, while the ER estimates from the existing data were significantly greater (p < 0.05) than the new estimates. These findings attest to the value of resampling techniques and sensitivity analysis when choosing appropriate precautionary reference points and investigating the integrity of data collection methods.

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