Alaska Sea Grant

Fish DLS symposium

Fisheries in Data-Limited Situations

21st Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium

Sheraton Anchorage Hotel
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
October 22–25, 2003

Contact: Sherri Pristash,

Symposium Information
Updated 14 July 2003

Register online for this symposium

* Background
* Program/Agenda
* Proceedings
* Location and Facilities
* Registration
* Sightseeing
* Organizing Committee
* Sponsors
* About Wakefield Series and Endowment

Symposium Background

Expanding worldwide demand for seafood products is not limited to fishery resources with rich histories of stock assessment and fishery research. As most of the world's large marine fisheries targets are fully exploited or overfished, new fisheries are being developed on marine species whose biology, productivity, and ecological relationships are little known.

For example, in North America during the 1980s and 1990s, new fisheries rapidly emerged to supply Asian markets with live and fresh seafood, such as sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and live rockfish among many others. The high value of these products and the desire to create fishing alternatives for fishers displaced from overcapitalized traditional fisheries contributed to a near "gold rush" of fisheries development despite data limitations and many uncertainties in some cases. Many tropical regions of the world have long histories of fisheries with limited data owing to practical constraints associated with small local economies and high fish species diversity.

Data-limited situations create challenges for fishery managers responding to societal demands to develop new fisheries while striving for precaution under the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. This led to new applications of decades-old simple production models, spawned the development of new assessment techniques with meager data requirements, and led to creative fishery management schemes including adaptive approaches, risk averse methods such as establishment of no-fishing refugia, co-management to share responsibilities among vested parties, and rights-based management systems.

What is the track record of fishery management in data-limited situations? Which methods have worked, and which ones have failed? What is precautionary when uncertainty is high? Can past results be generalized in terms of explicit advice to fishery managers who confront similar situations in the future?


The registration desk will be open at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 22. The program will begin the morning of Wednesday, October 22, and will conclude the afternoon of Saturday, October 25. There will be a reception after the presentations on Wednesday, October 22, and a social after presentations on Thursday, October 23, and Friday, October 24.

Oral presentations will cover the following topics:

  • Case studies of fishery successes and failures under alternative strategies, including contrasts of developing fisheries policies under different jurisdictions

  • Use of traditional knowledge and involvement of the fishing industry in data collection and management

  • Development and application of procedures to assess abundance and productivity of stocks with little a priori information

  • Practical indicators of stock health from limited sampling programs

  • Utility of multispecies and ecosystem indicators and models for assessment and management in data-limited situations

  • Management strategies that are risk averse to high levels of uncertainty, including phased approaches that link precaution to accumulation of knowledge during the evolution of the fishery

The agenda has been posted and will be updated as needed on this Web site.

The program includes presentations by researchers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Greenland, Estonia, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.

The official language of the symposium is English. Participants needing interpretation or translation services should provide their own.


The proceedings of the 2003 symposium will be published as a peer-reviewed book, and will include papers and posters presented at the meeting.

Proceedings of nineteen Wakefield symposia have been published. Information on availability and ordering is on our web site.

Location and Facilities

The symposium will be held in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city. In October, average temperatures range from 20°F to 35°F and days are 9 hours 30 minutes long. Be prepared for cool, wet weather, although it could be sunny and mild.

All sessions will be held at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. Newly redecorated with a Native Alaskan design motif, the Sheraton offers a variety of guest amenities including fine dining, cafes and lounge, fitness center, sauna, and whirlpool. Many rooms have great views.

Guest room accommodations are available for symposium participants at a special rate of $85.00 per person, per night, standard room. Add 8% tax to all room prices. NOTE: The Sheraton has graciously extended the hotel registration date until October 7: Participants should call the hotel directly at 907-276-8700 and ask for reservations. Be sure to make your reservations by October 7, 2003, and mention the 21st Wakefield Symposium for group rate. Make reservations directly with Sheraton reservations:

Sheraton Anchorage Hotel
401 East 6th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
907-276-8700 (voice, in Anchorage)
907-276-7561 (fax, in Anchorage)


The registration fee is $215.00 US if paid on or before September 19; it will be $240.00 if paid after September 19, 2003. The fee covers light continental breakfast and break refreshments daily; a reception on Wednesday, October 22; socials on Thursday, October 23, and Friday, October 24; symposium materials; and the published proceedings book. You are urged to register and pay your fees in advance so that adequate materials are available.

Make checks payable to Alaska Sea Grant College Program. Payment may also be made with a Visa or MasterCard. If it becomes necessary to cancel your registration, fees will be refunded at 75% if notice is received by October 8, 2003.

You can register online for the symposium using our secure form, or if you prefer, fill out and return our printable registration form to the symposium coordinator.

For further information contact:

Sherri Pristash
Symposium Coordinator
Alaska Sea Grant College Program
PO Box 755040
Fairbanks, AK 99775-5040
907-474-6701 (voice) • 907-474-6285 (fax)


Anchorage offers museums, performing arts, fine dining, bookstores, and sightseeing opportunities. For more information on these and other possibilities, check out these Web sites:

Organizing Committee
  • Vince Gallucci
    University of Washington
  • Doug Hay
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station
  • Gordon Kruse (Chair)
    University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fisheries Division
  • Ian Perry
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Biological Station
  • Randall Peterman
    Simon Fraser University
  • Sherri Pristash
    University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Sea Grant
  • Tom Shirley
    University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fisheries Division
  • Paul Spencer
    National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
  • Bill Wilson
    North Pacific Fishery Management Council
  • Doug Woodby
    Alaska Department of Fish and Game

About the Lowell Wakefield Symposium Series and Endowment

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program has been sponsoring and coordinating the Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium series since 1982. These meetings are a forum for information exchange in biology, management, economics, and processing of various fish species and complexes, as well as an opportunity for scientists to meet informally and discuss their work.

Lowell Wakefield was the founder of the Alaska king crab industry. He recognized two major ingredients necessary for the king crab fishery to survive—ensuring that a quality product be made available to the consumer, and that a viable fishery can be maintained only through sound management practices based on the best scientific data available. Lowell Wakefield and Wakefield Seafoods played important roles in the development and implementation of quality control legislation, in the preparation of fishing regulations for Alaska waters, and in drafting international agreements for the high seas. Toward the end of his life, Lowell Wakefield joined the faculty of the University of Alaska as an adjunct professor of fisheries, where he influenced the early directions of the university's Sea Grant Program. The symposium series is named in honor of Lowell Wakefield and his many contributions to Alaska's fisheries.

In 2000, Frankie Wakefield, Lowell's widow, made a gift to the University of Alaska Foundation to establish an endowment to continue this series. Additional donations to this endowment are encouraged in order to extend the support to the symposia. Donations may be made along with symposium registration (see the registration form).

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