Incorporating Stakeholder Knowledge into a Complex Stock Assessment Model: The Case of Eel Recruitment
Bayesian assessment model
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Mistrust between scientists and non-scientist stakeholders is a key challenge in fishery management. The support of management with complex models is difficult, as these models cannot easily communicate their results to end users, resulting in a lack of confidence. As an example, the complex life cycle of the European eel raises problems of coordination and discussion among the multiple actors involved in the species’ management. The GEREM model has been proposed as a tool for estimating recruitment, but its complexity, which is essential for addressing the characteristics of the species, makes it difficult to understand and accept by all stakeholders. In the context of the SUDOANG project, we proposed a co-parametrisation of this assessment model to tackle this mistrust. Through the use of various questionnaires, stakeholders were involved in two important choices for the model (zone definition and prior construction). Regular workshops and presentations were organised to explain the model rationales and to gather feedback and expectations. The results show that stakeholders have very similar perceptions of the potential definitions of sub-areas of recruitment in south-western Europe, and these perceptions are consistent with the underlying environmental conditions. On the other hand, the stakeholders have contrasting opinions about the exploitation rates of fisheries in different river basins, and the use of their knowledge currently has little effect on GEREM estimates. More importantly, the overall approach of this study is thought to have reconstructed the trust and confidence among participants.