Data-moderate assessments of Cape monkfish Lophius vomerinus and west coast sole Austroglossus microlepis in Namibian waters
There is global interest in providing scientific advice on optimal harvesting of all commercially exploited fish stocks. Nevertheless, many commercially important stocks lack analytical assessments. Therefore, we evaluate a data-moderate stock assessment method: the stochastic surplus production model in continuous time (SPiCT). The method was applied to two Namibian stocks: (i) the data-rich Cape monkfish Lophius vomerinus, where results are compared to a new data-rich assessment using a state–space assessment model (SAM); and (ii) the data-moderate west coast sole Austroglossus microlepis, which is an important bycatch species in the Cape monkfish fishery, but currently unassessed. The information available to the data-moderate assessment is total commercial catch, commercial catch per unit effort (CPUE), and survey CPUE. SPiCT and SAM gave largely consistent estimates of relative fishing mortality (F/FMSY) and relative exploitable biomass (B/BMSY) for the Cape monkfish stock, although with some discrepancies. Differences in the biomass estimates between the two assessments suggest that further investigation is required to understand the cause, and that some caution is necessary when considering the biomass of the stock. SPiCT shows that the west coast sole may be overexploited, although the confidence bounds were too wide for a firm conclusion. Similarity in the estimates of F/FMSY for Cape monkfish in recent years, using SPiCT relative to SAM, likewise indicates the suitability of SPiCT for managing west coast sole.
Keywords: data-limited assessment, exploitable biomass, marine fisheries, maximum sustainable yield, model parameters, Pella-Tomlinson surplus production model, state–space assessment model, stock assessment