B.C. Tuna Fishermen's Association

MSE Overview and Treaty activity update

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Overview of Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE)

Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) is a new and emerging approach to fisheries management and stock assessment. It involves setting clear management objectives for stocks and fisheries, then using modelling or simulation testing to evaluate the ability of various management procedures (e.g. harvest control rules) to meet those objectives. Unlike traditional fisheries management approaches aimed at identifying an “optimal” stock assessment or management approach, MSE involves assessing a range of different management procedures and considering to what extent they meet (or do not meet) objectives for the fishery (e.g. conservation, harvest opportunities, etc.).

One of the benefits of MSE is that it is more iterative, collaborative and can therefore increase transparency in decision-making. It involves management agencies (e.g. DFO), First Nations, commercial and recreational harvesters and other stakeholders working together to identify management objectives, as well as considering potential risks and trade-offs between these objectives. Another benefit is that simulation testing can help determine how robust management procedures are likely to be in light of uncertainties (e.g. climate change, changes in abundance due to recruitment, natural mortality, etc.).

The collaborative nature of MSE means that the process can take time. The process is also highly-technical, including the use of models, simulation analysis and other techniques that can be time consuming and challenging for MSE participants to understand at first.

Figure 1: Steps in the MSE Process (Source: http://www.cmar.csiro.au/research/mse/)


MSE in Canada and Internationally

MSE is increasingly used to inform fisheries management decision-making in Canada and elsewhere. In Canada, for example, MSE has been used to inform the management of several species including hake, halibut, sablefish and Southern Bluefin Tuna. It has also been used by bodies such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Many jurisdictions, including South Africa, Europe, New Zealand and Australia use MSE as a standard fisheries management tool.

International MSE process for Northern Pacific Albacore Tuna

The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) are jointly leading an MSE process for Northern Pacific Albacore Tuna. As a member of these organizations, Canada contributed to the MSE process by identifying management objectives for albacore tuna. In May 2016, six initial management objectives for Northern Pacific Albacore Tuna were identified (see workshop report) at an international workshop. The objectives Canada advanced at this workshop were developed in consultation with and continue to be discussed with the Canadian albacore tuna and other stakeholders, through the Tuna Advisory Board and the BC Tuna Fishermen’s Association)

The interim policy goal and objectives identified by the Northern Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Committee (WCPFC) are identified below. (https://www.wcpfc.int/meeting-folders/northern-committee)

Policy Goal

Maintain the North Pacific albacore biomass, with reasonable variability, around its current level in order to allow recent exploitation levels to continue with a low risk of breaching the Limit Reference Point.


  • Maintain biomass around its current level with reasonable variability

  • Maintain biomass with low risk of breaching the LRP (20%SSB current F=0)

  • Maintain biomass around its current level in order to allow recent exploitation levels to continue

For more information on the MSE process for North Pacific Albacore Tuna, please contact:

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