Hailing from Peoria, AZ, Andrea Sylvia came to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in January 2013 to pursue her Masters degree through the Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences (MEES) Graduate Program. Having successfully defended her thesis on April 9, 2015, Andrea is now the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory’s newest graduate!
Under the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Mike Wilberg, Andrea completed her studies with a specialization in Fisheries Science and developed her thesis, “Effects of Assessment Frequency and Data-Management Lag on Fishery Management Performance: Strategies for Improvement.”
Fisheries managers want to use the most recent data available to support their management decisions – but these data can take time to process and can be expensive to collect. When they become available, these data are then used in sophisticated statistical stock assessments which provide recommendations about sustainable levels of catch. The management process as well can be complex which further delays decision making. How should management invest their resources to ensure the most reliable outcomes for stakeholders? Should assessments be conducted as frequently as possible? Should they use only the most complete datasets, or make use of all data as it becomes available? These were the questions that Andrea addressed in her MS thesis research.
The objectives of Andrea’s thesis were to 1) compare performance of management systems with different levels of assessment frequency and different time lags driven cause by data availability and the management process, and 2) determine the effectiveness of methods for reducing data-management lag. Her research found substantial differences in management performance as a result of assessment frequency and data-management lag across a range of scenarios.
“We believe a best attempt to remedy certain problems in fishery management systems is to use data as it becomes available,” Andrea said of her research findings. “A highly managed system that allocates up to three years of lag between collection of data and implementation of regulations, sacrifices considerable amounts of biomass and available catch. Even with resource limitation being a driving factor in fisheries management, this study has proven one useful tradeoff may be to use available data in the most recent year of the stock assessment instead of waiting for more.”
Andrea’s research adds to the growing knowledge of the effects of assessment intervals and data lag as components of the management process that should be considered when building fishery management plans. Join the CBL family in congratulating Andrea for successfully defending her Masters of Science dissertation, and wishing her well in her pursuit of her Ph.D. at Iowa State University.