Recreational fisheries management strategy evaluation: accounting for maternal effects

Paying respect to the elders in recreational fisheries management

It is often the case that larger, older individuals (‘elders’) contribute dis-proportionally to reproduction in populations of marine fishes. Unfortunately, fisheries (commercial and recreational) tend to deplete elder individuals.  We used an age and size structured population model to determine the qualitative consequences of adopting alternative management strategies in a recreational fishery when the elders contribute dis-proportionally to recruitment. We show that when maternal effects are incorporated in the model, it changes our understanding of biological reference points derived from length-based management strategies.

We will test the predictions of this model with a model system, tautog (Tautoga onitis); a fish species with a disproportional effect of elders on recruitment and has a substantial recreational fishery in the Long Island Sound. We are developing a parameterized statistical stock assessment model for tautog in Long Island Sound, yielding population measurements (biological reference points) that are targets for management. We will then use the stock assessment model framework to characterize how adopting alternative management strategies may affect the sustainability of tautog stocks and affect future recreational angling opportunities.