Northeast Region Stock Assessment Process

In the Northeast, fish and invertebrate stock assessments provide the scientific basis for sustainable fishery harvests. These results are reported to fishery management bodies.

Nets with rock hopper sweeps on a dock. Boat rigging to the side.

Nets on a dock in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducts stock assessments that support the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Under our current process we have two assessment tracks, management and research, which are conducted annually. We assess species on a 1-6 year schedule

Download File: Guidelines on Working Group Form and Function

Management Assessments

Management assessments provide routine, scheduled, and updated advice to directly inform management actions. Designed to be simple, efficient, and flexible, they incorporate new information on a regular cycle. This ensures our understanding of each stock is updated on a predictable basis. 

A summary of our objectives: 

  1. Estimate catch from all sources including landings and discards. 
  2. Evaluate indices used in assessments.
  3. Estimate annual fishing mortality, recruitment and stock biomass over time for the stock. 
  4. Estimate the biological reference points for the stock.
  5. Recommend stock status for each stock.

Each assessment goes through steps that include:

  1. Collecting data and input.
  2. Developing a primary and back-up assessment plan.
  3. Assessment Oversight Panel and Northeast Region Coordinating Council review.
  4. Conducting the assessment.
  5. Scientific peer review.

Research Assessments

Research assessments are complex scientific efforts focused on research topics or individual stocks. They  may examine one or multiple stocks or evaluate an issue or new model that could apply to many stocks. They are designed to be carried out over several years and can consider extensive changes in data, models, or stock structures. They may provide the basis for future management assessments. 

The steps to these assessments will vary by topic but will include:

  1. Selecting a research topic. Each topic and a schedule were developed and selected by the Northeast Region Coordinating Council through 2024.
  2. Creating a working group. This group will develop research goals and objectives through a research plan and terms of reference. 
  3. Conducting research.
  4. Presenting their research results to a peer review panel. 
  5. Translating to management. Use the outcomes in future management track assessments that are topically or species related. 

More Information

Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on November 20, 2019