Evaluating Sustainable Fisheries

CMM26 Elective course 6 ECTS
Period W8-W10 16.02.15 - 06.03.15
Instructor Jónas Páll Jónasson


In this course we will cover many of the topics associated with marine fisheries, including why and how we assess fish populations, their habitat associations, life history and population dynamics, and how fisheries are currently moving towards ecosystem-based management. We will review some of the typical benchmarks and reference points used to evaluate stock status, what types of data go into a biological assessment and some of the theory and practice behind the collection those data. We will discuss models for growth, mortality, and population size, and the assumptions and caveats associated with them. We will investigate the importance of essential fish habitat and methods for evaluating biodiversity of fishes in marine ecosystems, as well as simple tools to evaluate food web interactions. Finally, we will touch on how we might assess the efficacy of marine protected areas and concepts related to management in the whole ecosystem, and why this is a direction in which fisheries management may be headed.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Collect otoliths and determine the age of fish
  • Analyze fishery data to estimate growth rates, mortality rates, and generate population size estimates using standard fisheries techniques
  • Explain the purpose of conducting biological assessments of fish populations
  • Assess habitat as it relates to managing healthy fisheries
  • Apply knowledge of species-specific life history and behavior information to more effectively manage fisheries
  • Recognize the specific role that habitat plays in framing life history and the potential impacts that affect fish habitat
  • Read and evaluate scientific articles related to fishery biology, and compare different viewpoints relating to fishery biology both orally and in writing
  • Apply their knowledge of marine fish ecology and management alternatives through the class project, which will be presented on the final day of the course



Students will be evaluated for completion of the lab exercises and the final project report and presentation.

Lab and Project Journal 25%
Final Project Report 30%
Final Project Presentation 30%
Peer-review of Presentation 15%

Tentative out-of-classroom activity:  Visit to a local fish market / fish processing plant


Jónas Páll Jónasson is a senior scientist at the Icelandic Marine Research Institute.

Guest lecturer

Further reading

Readings and further readings will be posted on the course website on UW intranet.