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

The Northeast Region Coordinating Council directs the stock assessment process that  includes two assessment tracks, management and research, which are conducted bi-annually. The Northeast Region Coordinating Council has developed a forward-looking schedule for both assessment tracks.  

Download File: Guidelines on Working Group Form and Function

Management Track 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.

More Information

Research Track 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

Forming a Working Group

The Research Track is a formal scientific process used in the Northeast Region. It provides detailed evaluation and analysis of fishery science research topics that are related to stock assessments and assessment models. Research Track working groups carry out analyses that are then peer reviewed by an independent review panel.

Working groups are formed by a selection process that considers the scientific independence, expertise, and education of the candidates.  Other considerations will include the size, composition, and balance of the working group. All candidates for the working group other than the Chair(s) are required to submit a questionnaire, which will be used for selection.  Final selections will be made by representatives of the five Northeast Regional Coordinating Council members.

Effective working groups typically consist of 4-8 members with a broad range of skills and proficiency and should include individuals from several disciplines. Applicant qualifications should be directly relevant to the particular stock or topic under consideration.

Upcoming Research Track Working Groups

Following guidelines developed by the Northeast Regional Coordinating Council, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center is currently seeking Haddock Research Track Working Group members.

Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on August 04, 2020