Management strategy evaluation: best practices

Management strategy evaluation (MSE) involves using simulation to compare the relative effectiveness for achieving management objectives of different combinations of data collection schemes, methods of analysis and subsequent processes leading to management actions. MSE can be used to identify a ‘best’ management strategy among a set of candidate strategies, or to determine how well an existing strategy performs. The ability of MSE to facilitate fisheries management achieving its aims depends on how well uncertainty is represented, and how effectively the results of simulations are summarized and presented to the decision-makers. Key challenges for effective use of MSE therefore include characterizing objectives and uncertainty, assigning plausibility ranks to the trials considered, and working with decisionmakers to interpret and implement the results of the MSE. This paper explores how MSEs are conducted and characterizes current ‘best practice’ guidelines, while also indicating whether and how these best practices were applied to two casestudies: the Bering–Chukchi–Beaufort Seas bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus; Balaenidae) and the northern subpopulation of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax caerulea; Clupeidae).