Better fish stock assessment can prevent possible loss of biodiversity in the Indian fisheries: A workshop on assessing fish stocks in a data-poor environment

05 Oct, 2017

In its quest to support international scientific cooperation with Indian research institutions, the CMPA Project, together with the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), organised a 2-days training workshop on the “Use of CMSY for the assessment of Indian fish stocks in a data-poor environment” (Kochi, India, 5-6 October 2017).

As in many other parts of the world, Indian fish stocks show signs of overfishing, with all the usual consequences, such as overcapacity in the fishing sector, loss of potential economic returns endangering thousands of livelihoods, and ultimately loss of diversity in the fishery with dire consequences for marine ecosystems. The CMFRI is tasked with assessing the status of fish stocks in India and make recommendations for their sustainable exploitation. Ideally, such recommendations are based on detailed fisheries statistics and research data, which, however, are often difficult to obtain.

The objective of the workshop was to introduce fisheries scientists in India and the region to a new method allowing the assessment of the status of a given fish stock with respect to the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) that this stock could endure. The method has been developed and tested on a wide range of fish stocks by Dr. R. Froese from the GEOMAR Institute in Kiel (Germany). It uses commonly available catch data and ecological parameters, which can be derived from FishBase the world’s largest scientific database on fish.

The workshop was organised by Dr. MLD Palomares, University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada and Ms Crispina Binohlan, FIN, Philippines, both scientists from the FishBase team, and Dr. Froese (from Germany, via Skype). The CMFRI provided the training facilities and funded the participation of 18 scientists of its various fisheries divisions. An additional 4 participants from Bangladesh and India were sponsored by the Bay of Bengal Program (BOBP), a regional fisheries body. Dr. JM Vakily, GIZ, and Dr. TV Sathaniandan (CMFRI) welcomed the participants during the opening ceremony. The participants worked on the data they had brought along, and were able to provide fairly robust assessments for seven fish stocks from India, Bangladesh as well as regional tuna stocks. Some of the assessments are very likely to be included in scientific publications.

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