Oregon State University

Sampson 2012-2013 Research Update

Fisheries Population Dynamics

David Sampson, Professor, Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

David’s research focuses on quantitative analyses of marine fisheries, with the goal of improving the quality, accuracy, and understanding of the procedures and results that are used in the management of Oregon's fisheries for groundfish (e.g., flatfish and rockfish).  His other research focus seeks to understand the fishers’ activities in fisheries systems, such as their choices of fishing locations and fishing gear.

David’s position is half-funded by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and one of his main duties for ODFW is service as Oregon’s representative on the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).  The SSC develops procedures for including science-based information in the Council’s fishery management process, reviews scientific documents brought to the Council, and provides advice to the Council regarding the scientific basis for fishery management decisions.  During the year David contributed ideas and text to SSC reports to the Council resulting from five regular meetings of the SSC and several extra meetings of the groundfish and economics subcommittees.  He also participated in a week-long workshop that discussed alternative harvest control rules for the West Coast sardine fishery, in light of new information regarding the possible influence of environmental factors on sardine population dynamics, and in a week-long stock assessment review of a set of new data-moderate stock assessments.  During the spring he taught a one-day workshop on fish stock assessment to Oregon’s three Council members and several staff from ODFW.

In July 2012 David began a new two-year project that is refining the bioeconomic simulator that he developed while on a leave of absence from OSU and working in Italy.  The project is funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  The simulator mimics the behavior of multiple fish stocks, occupying multiple spatial regions, with harvesting by multiple fishing fleets.  The project will apply the simulator to two West Coast fishery management issues: (1) exploring alternative rebuilding strategies for overfished stocks and (2) setting annual catch limits that give adequate consideration for risks such as over-running a catch limit because of inaccurate monitoring of landings and discards.  The work during the past year focused on the technical issue of how to model the amount of fishing that occurs and its spatial distribution.

David continued to serve as the External Coordinator for the Center for Independent Experts (CIE), which provides independent peer reviews of fishery stock assessments and other forms of marine science to the NMFS.  As the CIE External Coordinator, David helps administer all CIE review panels pertaining to Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico resources. His duties include finding suitable candidates for the panels and reviewing and editing the panelists’ reports.  During the year David assisted the CIE with the administration of eight reviews involving 24 external reviewers.

During 2012/13 David worked with four graduate students.  Brandon Owashi, a master’s degree candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, completed his second year at OSU.  For his thesis research he is exploring the influence of spatial variation on the performance of two data-poor stock assessment methods that are used for setting catch quotas by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.  LaTreese Denson, a master’s degree candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, started at OSU in Winter 2012.  For her thesis research she is exploring issues associated with conducting age-structured (data rich) stock assessments that are spatially structured.  Chris Cusak, a doctoral degree candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, is helping David with the bioeconomic simulator project.  Chris’s work on the project will provide a basis for some chapters of his PhD thesis.  Noelle Yochum, a doctoral degree candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, transferred to David’s supervision in autumn 2012.  She is measuring the mortality rates of incidentally caught crabs using the Reflex Action Mortality Predictor (RAMP) approach that was developed by Michael Davis and Al Stoner, formerly at the HMSC with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program.  The past year Noelle began a field project with Dungeness crabs that is attempting to validate the RAMP method by independently measuring bycatch mortality from crabs have been tagged and released.

During Autumn 2012 David taught the 4-credit course “Dynamics of Marine Biological Resources”, which examines the mathematical details of some of the population dynamics models commonly used in fisheries science and stock assessment.  Lectures were given at the HMSC and televised to the main OSU campus.

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