Immersion in the world of stock assessments: training course preview

As one of three training course taking place at ICES this June, co-instructor Steve Cadrin answers some questions on his introduction to stock assessments programme.
Published: 7 April 2015
​​​​​What inspired you set up the Stock Assessment​ Introduction training course?
I was asked by ICES to offer the course in 2009 as part of the new Training Programme, based on the graduate course that I have taught for years at the University of Massachusetts. When I was approached about teaching an intensive course on stock assessment, I thought 'this will never work', because there is way too much information to learn in one week. I was happily surprised to learn that I was wrong.  The 5-day format, with lecture on theory coupled with practical assignments, is essentially an immersion programme. I witnessed students easily integrating the related concepts within stock assessment, which was more difficult for students in my semester-long course. I also saw students working together to complete assignments, similar to the way ICES assessment working groups operate.  

Why is there a need for this right now?
ICES and the rest of the world are moving toward ecosystem approaches to fishery science and advice, but single species stock assessment remains the basis of most fishery management advice, and the population dynamics of single species models are important components of more integrated approaches. Most stock assessment systems are constrained by limited human resources. We need to expand our capacity to produce high-quality stock assessments by training scientists in the theory and practice of population modeling. This will be the eighth time we’ve offered the course, and I think the course has met our objectives for over 200 students.

How valuable is understanding the role of stock assessments in fisheries science? 
From my point of view, stock assessment plays a central role in fisheries science, so that all fishery scientists should have some understanding of stock assessment.  Marine ecologists, fish biologists, survey technicians, field samplers, database managers, policy analysts and fishery managers should all understand the fundamentals.

Which aspects of your professional work and/or skills will help you to deliver the course?
I think that my career background helps me to relate a highly technical topic to a broad audience. I began as a general marine biologist. My first job was as a fishery observer, and my early career included aquaculture, and fishery resource surveys before I began working in stock assessment. My recent career has been focused more on the interface between science and management. I think all of these experiences help to relate to the diversity of students in the class

What advice would you give to potential students?
Although we assign some necessary programming and statistics in the course, we focus on learning the concepts of stock assessment, and have practical exercises to demonstrate the concepts. Therefore, it helps students to have some familiarity in basic statistics and some programming experience, so that they are not bogged down in learning those skills and can focus on the concepts. On the other end of the diversity, students with strong math backgrounds may want to do some general reading on fisheries. We offer some introductory reading to registered students that can help with both.  It takes a diverse group of people to produce a good stock assessment, so we hope that this course is approachable from all directions. 

The 'Stock Assessment (Introduction)' training course takes place 15-19 June 2015 at the ICES Secretariat in Copenhagen.
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Immersion in the world of stock assessments: training course preview

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