Spawning biomass reference points for exploited marine fishes, incorporating taxonomic and body size information

James T. Thorson, Jason M. Cope, Trevor A. Branch, Olaf P. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Surplus production represents the processes that affect sustainable fishery harvest and is central to the ecology and management of marine fishes. Taxonomy and life history influence the ratio of spawning biomass at maximum sustainable yield to average unfished spawning biomass (SBMSY/SB0), and estimating this ratio for individual stocks is notoriously difficult. We use a database of published landings data and stock assessment biomass estimates and determine that process errors predominate in this data set by fitting a state-space model to data from each stock individually. We then fit multispecies process-error models while treating SBMSY/SB0 as a random effect that varies by taxonomic order and maximum length. The estimated SBMSY/SB0 = 0.40 for all 147 stocks is intermediate between the values assumed by the Fox and the Schaefer models, although Clupeiformes and Perciformes have lower and Gadiformes and Scorpaeniformes have higher SBMSY/SB0 values. Model selection supports the hypothesis that large-bodied fishes for a given taxonomic order have relatively higher SBMSY/SB0. Results can be used to define reference points for data-poor fisheries or as input in emerging assessment methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1556-1568
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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