International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
WKspratMSE Report 2018.pdf (2.78 MB)

Workshop on the management strategy evaluation of the reference point, Fcap, for Sprat in Division 3.a and Subarea 4 (WKspratMSE)

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posted on 2022-12-02, 11:09 authored by ICESICES

The Workshop on the management strategy evaluation of the reference point, Fcap, for Sprat in Division 3.a and Subarea 4 (WKSpratMSE) was held in ICES headquarters in Copenhagen 11-12 December 2018, and continued to work by correspondence through February 2019. The aim of the workshop was to estimate an appropriate Fcap for sprat in Division 3.a and Subarea 4 (Skagerrak, Kattegat, and North Sea) and sprat in divisions 7.d and 7.e (English Channel). This was done in response to the outcomes of the Benchmark Workshop on Sprat (WKSPRAT 2018). Two external reviewers participated and reviewed the analytical work and conclusions of the workshop. See full participant list in Annex 1.

Sprat in the English Channel (Divisions 7de) is a category 3 stock and is assessed based on the acoustic survey carried out in area 7.e. Previously, the “2-over-3” rule had been used to provide catch advice, but evaluations during the last WKSPRAT benchmark suggested that such rule is not appropriate for short, highly productive species. The workshop therefore compared through simulations the performances of a “1-over-2” rule (with and without an uncertainty cap) and of different fixed harvest rates. The simulations suggested that a 1-over-2 rule for short-lived highly productive species might cause the stock to fall below safe levels and eventually to collapse because the rule is not reactive enough to limit the catches when there is a recruitment failure. When removing the uncertainty cap, performances improve, but the risk still remains above safe limits. The use of a fixed harvest rate seems to prevent risk and maximize catch, depending on the proportion used. Simulations suggest that a 20% harvest rate is considered appropriate to maintain the stock at safe biomass levels and to produce relatively high yield. One external reviewer suggested that these rules continue to be explored at the relevant upcoming Workshop for Data-limited Short-lived Stocks (WKDLSSLS). 

Sprat in Skagerrak, Kattegat, and the North Sea (Division 3a, Subarea 4) is a category 1 stock and follows the ICES MSY approach where the advised yearly catches corre-spond to the estimated stock biomass in excess of the MSY Bescapement, but constrained so that the fishing mortality is no higher than a limit F (Fcap). A “full” closed loop man-agement strategy evaluation (MSE) was carried out to test for a range of F’s and find an appropriate Fcap value that showed a less than 5% probability of SSB < Bescapement. The value of Fcap was conditioned on using Bpa as MSY Bescapement. A “short-cut” MSE featur-ing an assessment emulator was implemented to compare the two approaches. The stock and fleet dynamics were conditioned on the most recent assessment from WKSPRAT2018. Performance statistics between the “full” and “short-cut” MSEs were similar, suggesting that short-cut MSEs should continue to be explored, as they have the advantage of being unaffected by assessment numeric convergence. According to these analyses, Fcap of 0.69 is precautionary.


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee

  • ACOM

Published under the auspices of the following ICES Expert Group or Strategic Initiative

WKSPRAT; Workshops - ACOM


ICES Expert Group Reports

Meeting details

11-12 December 2018, Copenhagen

Recommended citation

ICES. 2019. Workshop on the management strategy evaluation of the reference point, Fcap, for Sprat in Division 3.a and Subarea 4 (WKspratMSE). 11-12 December 2018. ICES HQ, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2018/ACOM:69. 35 pp.

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