California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Data-Poor Fisheries Management

Treefish. CDFW file photo.

The Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which became law on January 1, 1999, establishes a marine fisheries program for four types of fisheries including the nearshore finfish fishery, the white seabass fishery, emerging fisheries, and fisheries for which the Fish and Game Commission has some management authority (e.g. market squid). One of the goals of the MLMA is the sustainable use of these fisheries as well as the sustainable use of other marine living resources (for instance, species that are taken incidentally to fishing).

Management of these marine resources is to be based upon the best available scientific information and other relevant information. However, many of these fisheries and other resources are data-poor; namely, there is a lack of Essential Fishery Information (EFI), both biological and socioeconomic, that hinders managers' efforts to fully assess the stock status of these species. Collection of EFI to fill in identified data gaps can be costly and time consuming, although new approaches to data collection may provide the means to fill in some of these gaps.

According to the MLMA, lack of information should not preclude efforts to address the sustainability of the resource. At the federal level, a precautionary approach is generally used to manage species where EFI is insufficient for a full stock assessment. This approach was incorporated into the Nearshore Fishery Management Plan.

In recent years, development of other approaches for managing data-poor fisheries also has been taking place both nationally and internationally. Some of these approaches, as well as suggestions for new tools and more effective data collection methods, were discussed at a “Managing Data-Poor Fisheries Workshop” (MDPFW) held in Berkeley, California on December 1-4, 2008. The MDPFW was funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Sea Grant, and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.

This web page provides information relevant to the management of data-poor fisheries in California.

Kellet's Whelk (CDFW file photo) and Hornshark (Photograph courtesy of Derek Stein).

Managing Data-Poor Fisheries Workshop (December 1-4, 2008)

Fish and Game Commission, Marine Resources Committee Meeting (May 25, 2010)
Data-Poor Fisheries Management Panel Powerpoint Presentations

Informative Documents and Website Links

  • MacCall, A.D. 2009. Depletion-corrected average catch: a simple formula for estimating sustainable yields in data-poor situations. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 66:2267-2271.