Harvest Control Rules for Highly Variable, Environmentally-Driven Species: The Case of the Pacific Sardine
Management of the northern subpopulation of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) is unique in that it directly uses environmental information for setting harvest quotas. Since Amendment 8 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan, harvest rate of Pacific sardine has been set as a function of the sea surface temperature at Scripps pier, based on the relationship between temperature and recruitment. By request of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the relationship between environment and recruitment was re-evaluated and found to be still valid. A management strategy evaluation then showed that for a highly variable stock like Pacific sardine, a harvest control rule including environment and a minimum population threshold below which no catches occur is both precautionary and optimal for long-term catches maximization.