15th Lowell Wake®eld Fisheries Symposium
Fishery Stock Assessment Models for the 21st Century: Combining Information
from Multiple Sources.
15th Lowell Wake®eld Fisheries Symposium, 8±11 October 1997, Anchorage, Alaska.
Organizing Committee: Fritz Funk, Terrance Quinn (co-chairs); Brenda Baxter, Jane DiCosimo, James
Ianelli, Patrick Sullivan.
Sponsors: Alaska Sea Grant College Program; Alaska Department of Fish and Game; International
Paci®c Halibut Commission; North Paci®c Fishery Management Council; US National Marine Fishery
Service. Proceedings: expected release autumn 1998. Contact: Brenda Baxter (1 907-474-6701 or
FNBRB@uaf.edu). WEB site:
Having worked with ®sh stock assessment models for more than 20 years, I often ponder
the limitations of current techniques for resolving the real problems of ®shery
management. Frequent reports of declining ®sh stocks do not inspire con®dence.
Obviously mindful of these problems, colleagues in Alaska organized the 15th Lowell
Wake®eld Fisheries Symposium on the topic: `Fishery stock assessment models for the
21st century: combining information from multiple sources'. During four sunny October
days in Anchorage, 167 participants from 19 countries debated the merits of a wide
spectrum of assessment techniques.
The Lowell Wake®eld Symposia have a distinguished history of gathering ®shery
expertise on specialized topics. Proceedings have been published for each meeting, and
the 1992 symposium on `Management strategies for exploited ®sh populations' went
through a second printing to meet the demand. Brenda Baxter at the University of
Alaska, Fairbanks, deserves particular credit for coordinating this run of 15 successful
meetings. She explained to me that her approach stems from an innate Alaskan sense of
hospitality. Living in splendid isolation among mountains and glaciers. Alaskans seek
perspective by inviting outsiders to visit and share their knowledge. She's right: the
Alaskans make great hosts and the isolation stimulates an intense scienti®c exchange.
This symposium was organized into four theme sessions: data con¯icts and model
speci®cation, stage structured populations, ocean ecosystems, and harvest policy. Talks
never ran concurrently. Thus, the opportunity to hear them all was limited only by a
participant's mental energy and preoccupation with interesting hallway conversations.
Central issues came up repeatedly in each of the four sessions. Is stock assessment
really possible, that is, do the available data really allow us to infer stock abundance
and potential yield? Do ancillary data add to or detract from the assessment results? In
particular, can the in¯uence of climate data be detected convincingly in modern
assessment models? Recognizing that ecosystems are complex, do simple or complex
models lead to better understanding? Above all, what aspects of the analysis contribute
to sound, useful advice for managers and stakeholders? How can this advice be
communicated in ways that draw attention to risk and the need for risk management?
The opening keynote talk by Keith Sainsbury (Hobart, Tasmania) focused particularly
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 8, 113±115 (1998)
0960±3166 # 1998 Chapman & Hall