Fisheries provide countless benefits to human populations but face many threats ranging from climate change to overfishing. Despite these threats and an increase in fishing pressure globally, most stocks remain unassessed and data limited. An abundance of data‐limited assessment methods exists, but each has different data requirements, caveats, and limitations. Furthermore, developing informative model priors can be difficult when little is known about the stock, and uncertain model parameters could create misleading results about stock status. Our research illustrates an approach for rapidly creating robust initial assessments of unregulated and data‐limited fisheries without the need for additional data collection.
Our method uses stakeholder knowledge combined with a series of data‐limited tools to identify an appropriate stock assessment method, conduct an assessment, and examine how model uncertainty influences the results. Our approach was applied to the unregulated and data‐limited fishery for Crevalle Jack
Results suggested a steady increase in exploitation and a decline in stock biomass over time, with the stock currently overfished and undergoing overfishing. These findings highlight a need for management action to prevent continued stock depletion.
Our approach can help to streamline the initial assessment and management process for unregulated and data‐limited stocks and serves as an additional tool for combating the many threats facing global fisheries.