FishPath: A Decision Support System for Assessing and Managing Data- and Capacity-Limited Fisheries

FishPath: A Decision Support System for Assessing and Managing Data- and Capacity-Limited Fisheries

Natalie A. Dowling, Jono R. Wilson, Merrill B. Rudd, Elizabeth A. Babcock, Matias Caillaux, Jason Cope, Dawn Dougherty, Rod Fujita, Todd Gedamke, Mary Gleason, Nicolas Gutierrez,Adrian Hordyk, George W. Maina, Peter J. Mous, Dan Ovando, Ana M. Parma, Jeremy Prince, Carmen Revenga, Jeremy Rude, Cody Szuwalski, Sarah Valencia, and Steven Victor

FishPath: A Decision Support System for Assessing and Managing Data- and Capacity-Limited FisheriesThis is part of Assessing and Managing Data-Limited Fish Stocks
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A majority of fisheries across the globe are data- and/or capacity-limited, in that they lack data and/or resources to generate statistical estimates of stock status, often leading to ineffective or nonexistent management. Improving management actions and outcomes could be accomplished by using analytical methods and management measures that are effective even when data and capacity are limited, positively impacting the livelihoods of millions of people and generating significant conservation benefits. Cost-effective methods for analyzing and managing data-limited fisheries exist, but they are challenging to navigate due to the myriad options, different data requirements, unique outputs, and a lack of understanding of the relative costs and advantages of each approach. There is also an increasing body of general guidance for the process of developing management strategies, i.e., the pre-agreed system of monitoring, assessment, and decision rules used to achieve management objectives for data-limited fisheries. However, this body of guidance has yet to be organized in a way that allows fishery management practitioners to apply it easily. Thus, there remains a disconnect between the development of assessment approaches and decision rule options, and their on-the-ground implementation in a management context. To fill this gap, we have developed FishPath: a decision support system that allows users to characterize their fishery with respect to (i) available data; (ii) biological/life history attributes of relevant species; (iii) fishery operational characteristics; (iv) socioeconomic characteristics; and (v) governance context. FishPath allows users to identify a subset of management strategy options appropriate for the fishery based on this characterization. We are currently applying FishPath to a range of data-limited fisheries globally to evaluate its efficacy. FishPath is the first ever comprehensive and standardized approach to guiding the selection of monitoring, assessment, and decision rule options for data-limited fisheries. If widely applied, FishPath will help ensure that more data-limited, capacity-limited fisheries, particularly those in developing countries, become assessed and managed, leading to improved conservation and fishery outcomes.

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