Journal Article

Interpreting catch per unit effort data to assess the status of individual stocks and communities

Mark N. Maunder, John R. Sibert, Alain Fonteneau, John Hampton, Pierre Kleiber and Shelton J. Harley

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 8, pages 1373-1385
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Interpreting catch per unit effort data to assess the status of individual stocks and communities

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Despite being one of the most common pieces of information used in assessing the status of fish stocks, relative abundance indices based on catch per unit effort (cpue) data are notoriously problematic. Raw cpue is seldom proportional to abundance over a whole exploitation history and an entire geographic range, because numerous factors affect catch rates. One of the most commonly applied fisheries analyses is standardization of cpue data to remove the effect of factors that bias cpue as an index of abundance. Even if cpue is standardized appropriately, the resulting index of relative abundance, in isolation, provides limited information for management advice or about the effect of fishing. In addition, cpue data generally cannot provide information needed to assess and manage communities or ecosystems. We discuss some of the problems associated with the use of cpue data and some methods to assess and provide management advice about fish populations that can help overcome these problems, including integrated stock assessment models, management strategy evaluation, and adaptive management. We also discuss the inappropriateness of using cpue data to evaluate the status of communities. We use tuna stocks in the Pacific Ocean as examples.

Keywords: cpue; ecosystem; fisheries management; Pacific Ocean; stock assessment; tuna

Journal Article.  8830 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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