Exploring the status of the Indonesian deep demersal fishery using length-based stock assessments

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The deep demersal snapper-grouper fishery in Indonesia is a data-poor fisheries resource that provides food security and a source of income to millions globally. Owing to an ongoing crew-operated data recording system implemented in Indonesia since 2015, the stocks of this fishery can now be assessed using length-frequency data and updated life-history parameters. Here, we use two length-based methods, one that is fishery-specific and another that is more generalized, to assess the status of Indonesian stocks. Specifically, we develop a literature-based assessment method based on a patchwork of conventional approaches but tailored to the studied stocks, and compare it with a newly established and broadly applicable length-based Bayesian biomass estimation method (LBB). The methods were applied to 16 stocks from 4 Indonesian Fisheries Management Areas and were compared based on simulations, as well as the convergence of the resulting stock status classification and uncertainty of the results. Analyzing the effect of using the literature-based species/family-specific life-history parameter values for asymptotic length (Linf) and relative natural mortality (M/K) in LBB showed that different values do affect the estimated biomass indicator. Nevertheless, in more than half the cases, the stock status classification did not differ between the two methods, while LBB results became more reliable with narrower confidence limits. Simulations, as well as similar status indicators between the two models support the value of the literature-based approach as an assessment methodology for the Indonesian deep demersal fisheries. Narrower confidence ranges highlight the importance of using fishery-specific information when applying generalized stock assessment methods. While most catches had few immature fish, half of the assessed stocks were consistently shown to have low biomass, indicating that important Indonesian stocks are at high risk of overfishing.

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Fisheries Research