Red Hake Stock Structure Working Group
Researchers in the Northeast are evaluating red hake stock structure in the Northwest Atlantic.
Red hake in the Northwest Atlantic U.S. waters are managed as two distinct stock management units. The northern stock management unit ranges from the Gulf of Maine to the northern edge of Georges Bank, while the southern management unit spreads from Georges Bank to the Mid-Atlantic. Each management unit within the red hake fishery is managed with different harvest regulations and limits. However, there is significant uncertainty regarding the biological stock structure of red hake and how it relates to these two units.
In the spring of 2020 we will conduct a research track assessment to evaluate red hake stock structure and the appropriate management units. A working group will support this effort. The working group members bring expertise from multiple disciplines and represent scientists from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, state agencies, and academia. This group will evaluate data, methods, and existing models to make recommendations about red hake stock structure with implications for stock assessments. A scientific peer review committee will assess the working group’s recommendations in 2020.
In order to define appropriate management units, the working group will examine red hake characteristics including growth, maturity and spawning patterns. It will also reevaluate how well the federal bottom trawl survey catches red hake and what that means for population assessments. The data for this evaluation was collected by commercial industry collaborative research through the Northeast Trawl Advisory Panel.
Working Group Members
Members of the working group are:
- David Richardson, Working Group Chair, Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
- Toni Chute, Lead Assessment Analyst, Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
- Larry Alade, Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
- Steve Cadrin, School for Marine Science and Technology, UMass Dartmouth.
- Nicole Costa, New England Fisheries Management Council rep, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Marine Fisheries.
- Jonathan Grabowski, Northeastern University.
- Katey Marancik, Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
- Richard McBride, Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
- David Secor, University of Maryland.
- Zachary Whitener, Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
- Issac Wirgin, New York University.
Terms of Reference
The working group will address the following terms of reference (TORs):
- Review and summarize all relevant literature on the existing stock structure of red hake in the northwest Atlantic.
- Identify and evaluate any new and/or existing data relevant to the stock structure of red hake including but not limited to the species’ life history (i.e., spawning, distribution, abundance, growth, maturity, and natural mortality), morphometrics, and genetics.
- Recommend the most likely biological stock structure among a set of alternatives from TOR 2: consider the current management unit as null hypothesis.
- Evaluate existing experimental data on survey catchability of red hake. Examine the sufficiency of catchability data and, if appropriate, incorporate the catchability estimates into the assessment.
- Apply the existing assessment model framework to the stock structure based on TOR 3 and 4 to ensure its utility in subsequent management track assessments. Evaluate existing reference points. Consider alternate assessment approaches if existing model framework does not perform well, and consider alternate reference points as needed.
- Identify gaps in the existing research with respect to red hake stock structure. Develop a prioritized list of research recommendations to address these gaps. Comment on the feasibility and time horizon of the proposed research recommendations.
- Red Hake Stock Structure Data Scoping Webinar, November 4, 2019
- Red Hake Stock Structure Working Group Data Scoping Meeting, November 4, 2019
- Red Hake Stock Structure Working Group Meeting 2, January 6–8, 2020
- Red Hake Stock Structure Working Group Data Scoping Meeting, February 5, 2020
- Red Hake Stock Structure Peer Review March 9–12
Working Group Meeting Summaries
Any and all recommendations or products from these meetings are subject to peer review by an independent panel of experts scheduled for March 9–12, 2020.
Red Hake Working Group Data Scoping Meeting Summary
On November 4, 2019, the red hake stock structure working group members and other interested parties met via a webinar to discuss the data available to evaluate red hake stock structure and catchability. They also discussed the timeline and process for planned analyses and working papers.
During this meeting, scientists provided an overview of how red hake stock structure has been defined in previous assessments since the 1970s, as well as an overview of our current assessment models. Discussion topics included:
- How fisheries-dependent data can be used to evaluate the differences in regional fisheries.
- What fisheries independent data are present or absent, and what information can be provided.
- What catchability data is available and how that might be included.
- What HabCam data is available and how that might be included.
Red Hake Stock Structure Meeting 2 Summary
From January 6–8, 2020, the red hake stock structure working group met at the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) in New Bedford, Massachusetts. During this three day workshop, new analyses were evaluated. These analyses covered:
- Red hake growth.
- Spawning distribution.
- Larval transport.
- Regional population trends.
- Fisheries utilization.
- Otolith microchemistry.
- Using an index-based assessment model.
After considering all of this information, the working group recommended:
- Maintaining the existing stock structure for red hake with separate assessments for the northern and southern portions of the species in US waters.
- That future assessments use the red hake biomass estimates that account for the catchability values estimated from the chain sweep study.
- That an alternative model framework will need to be explored.
Red Hake Stock Structure Meeting 3 Summary
During this February 5, 2020 webinar an index method—AIM—model and a revised empirical approach to assessing both stocks of red hake were presented to the working group. The alternative model used empirical data derived from recent catchability experiments and applied to the NEFSC trawl survey index. The working group reached a consensus that the alternative model approach was technically sound and this approach will be presented at the peer review for red hake stock structure from March 9–12, 2020.