Using multivariate autoregressive state-space models to examine stock structure of Greenland halibut in the North Atlantic
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFisheries Management and Ecology. 2023, 30 (5), 521-535. 10.1111/fme.12639
Accurate information on population structure is essential for effective fisheries management. Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) in the North Atlantic is managed as four separate offshore stocks. We use Multivariate Autoregressive State-Space (MARSS) models to assess population structure by means of abundance and biomass trends in four regions (Norwegian Sea, Iceland, Southeast Greenland, and Northwest Atlantic) where three offshore stocks are recognized: (1) Baffin Bay–Davis Strait (Northwest Atlantic stock), (2) Southeast Greenland and Iceland (West Nordic stock (WNS)), and (3) the Barents and Norwegian Seas (Northeast Arctic stock). We formulated model alternatives, using bottom trawl survey data from each region for 1996–2019, to evaluate support for different population structures. Abundance and biomass observations from each region were linked to growth rate parameters in MARSS models and the impact of climate (North Atlantic Oscillation Index) and fishing (commercial catches) on stock dynamics was investigated. Top models identified the Northwest Atlantic as an independent population. Best-fit models treated Greenland halibut in the WNS as two independent populations (east and west), with potential connections between eastern Iceland and the western Barents Sea. These results suggest a mismatch between current stock perception and management boundaries in the Northeast Atlantic.