Students review fish stock assessments for European Union countries

In May, a group largely comprised of University of Maine students was chosen to conduct a peer review of fishery stock assessments for seven countries in the European Union.

Of the group, 17 students currently work in professor Yong Chen’s fishery population dynamics lab in the School of Marine Sciences.

“Only two labs in the United States are invited by the EU to take part in the assessments, so we take great pride in this opportunity,” says Chen, who adds the assessment is an annual activity for his students.

From May 4–19, members of the University of Maine Review Group (UMaine RG) assessed 18 stocks for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The review took place on the UMaine campus.

ICES is a global organization that develops science and advice to support the sustainable use of the oceans. It is a network of more than 5,000 scientists from over 690 marine institutes.

The students compiled a 125-page report to determine the status of each stock, and the technical and scientific rigor of the work, as well as their final decision of accepting or rejecting the assessment.

The UMaine RG assessment results were presented at the ICES headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark by this year’s RG leader, Robert Boenish, who recently received his Ph.D. in Chen’s lab.

The proceedings of this year’s report led to the adoption of multiple UMaine RG modeling and management suggestions.

“During the two-week stock assessment review, we tried tirelessly to find constructive ways that the scientists could improve their assessments such that both the fish and people will benefit,” Boenish says.

The review results will have significant impacts on EU fisheries management, according to Chen.