PuntLab Celebrates a Successful Centennial

The Punt Lab had a wonderful week celebrating the 100-year anniversary of SAFS at the “Super-Bevan” that took place this week. Graduate students Kristin Privitera-Johnson, Grant Adams and Postdoc Megsie Siple (standing in for Caitlin Allen) all presented during the three-day symposium. We had a great opportunity to take a group photo with some current and past lab members.

Many thanks to the wonderful sponsors and all the speakers at the Bevan, and a big “kudos” to Andre for putting on such a fun celebration!

Maia Kapur publishes article in Biological Conservation

Maia Kapur, a new PhD student in the Punt Lab, recently published a simulation study with coauthors in Biological Conservation on the accuracy of simple fisheries indicators in predicting the status of pelagic shark populations. Fisheries indicators, such as time series of average length or catch per unit effort, are used in some data-limited or bycatch fisheries to perform rough population status estimates. This study demonstrated that such approaches pose the risk of being very inaccurate, especially when the time series is short.

Maia will be presenting this work at the SAFS Grad Student symposium in November.

Carvalho, F., Piner, K.R., Lee, Hui-Hua, Kapur, Maia, Clarke, S., 2018. Can the status of pelagic shark populations be determined using simple fishery indicators? Biol. Conserv. 228, 195–204.

Punt Lab does CAPAM Spatial Assessment Workshop

Last week, Punt lab members Maia Kapur and Caitlin Allen Akselrud in addition to André himself attended the Center for the Advancement of Population Assessment and Modeling (CAPAM) workshop at the SW Fisheries Science Center. The workshop was focused on spatial methods in stock assessment and fisheries population modeling. André delivered a keynote speech providing an overview of cases where including spatial structure in an assessment model improved precision and/or reduced bias — but results are case-dependent. Panelists agreed that the general ‘fleet-as-area’ approach, presented by Punt lab researchers here, is a workable alternative assuming that the areas are consistent with indices of abundance.

Several SAFS alumni, including Dr. Juan Valero (Hilborn lab, now at IATTC) presented ongoing work contributing to the upcoming Bigeye Tuna (BET) assessment.

The workshop generated much discussion, especially regarding the issue of accurately including movement from tagging data into stock assessments and the importance of defining stock structure at a scale useful for management. We look forward to the special issue of Fisheries Research dedicated to this workshop!

Andre and Kristin do Multi-species MSE in the Mediterranean Sea

Allora! Last week André Punt and I visited the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy to lead a workshop on Multi-species Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) for the Advanced School on Multispecies modelling Approaches for ecosystem-based marine Resource Management in the MEDiterranean Sea (AMARE-MED 2018). The AMARE-ED aims to establish best practice multi-species assessment methods through review, evaluation, and comparison of models and approaches by providing annual courses. Andre co-taught the first AMARE-ED course on Models of Intermediate ComplExity (i.e., MICE models) and Gadget, taught by Valerio Bartolino (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), last year in Sicily and was most excited for the invitation to work with the advanced school again. This year we were fortunate to teach 30 workshop participants from many countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

In a mere five days, Andre lead us through the basics of performing MSE and constructing multi-species models using Ecopath, Ecosim, and Rpath (GitHub). The group bonded in the air-conditioned basement computer lab [i.e., the ideal coding environment] as André introduced MSE, designing operating models, selecting candidate management strategies, coding and implementing MSE, presenting MSE results to fisheries managers, and using R and Rpath to code a multi-species MSE with technical interactions. Workshop participants completed hands-on exercises covering: coding a MSE based on Potential Biological Removals (Wade, 1998); coding a MSE with technical interactions; setting up an Ecopath model in Rpath; conditioning a Rpath model using optimization in R; and a culminating project to code a multi-species MSE with technical interactions using Rpath, compare management strategies, and present their findings. This last exercise was truly the most rewarding experience for both André and the workshop participants because it provided an opportunity to apply all that was learned in one creative (and lightly competitive) group assignment. Ultimately, this was one of the first times that a multi-species model in Ecopath/Rpath incorporating technical interactions was included in an MSE framework!

Our Italian getaway was not just all work! We learned about three examples of MSEs being developed for Mediterranean Sea fisheries from local fisheries scientists. Betulla Morello, representing the GFCM, presented on “Management Strategy Evaluation towards providing advice within the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean”. Piera Carpi, representing the CEFAS, discussed “A ‘shortcut’ MSE using a non-equilibrium simulator”. Finally, Igor Celic, representing OGS, shared their work on “Multiple ecosystem simulations as a tool for evaluation of management measures: the case of the EU Landing Obligation”. We then embarked on an excursion to the Miramare Marine Protected Area, a fifteen minute walk from the institute to learn about one of the oldest and smallest MPAs in Italy. Then workshop participants had the opportunity to go on a guided snorkeling tour of the MPA or on a tour of the mussel farms in the Gulf of Trieste. The day closed with a traditional dinner by the sea with good company! André’s doppelgänger was sighted at a nearby salsa lesson. Or perhaps it was really André—the world may never know.

André and I are grateful for the steering committee, supporting organizations, ICTP institute, and most of all the workshop participants for the invitation and enthusiasm for learning. We are eager to see the projects these scientists will pursue in the future!

Andre Visit Shanghai Ocean University

André Punt visited Shanghai Ocean University (SHOU) from 14 to 19 June, 2018. He gave a class on the use of Statistical Catch-at-Age Analysis (SCAA). The first four days of the class covered the development of age-structured population dynamics models, fitting population dynamics models using maximum likelihood methods based on Solver within Excel, how to calculate biological and economic reference points, and how to conduct projections using SCAA. The fifth day of the class was focused on Stock Synthesis, developed by Richard Methot (NOAA). André also gave a seminar to SHOU faculty and students on the use of Adaptive Management within fisheries management. He also met with several PhD students, some of whom may be visiting the PuntLab in the not-too-distant future. Andre’s visit coincided with the Dragon Boat Festival, which meant a visit to Shanghai was possible!

Grant Adams publishes article in Fisheries Research

Grant Adams, a new PhD student in the Punt Lab, recently published an article in Fisheries Research on growth variability of Sheepshead across the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Growth variation can have implications for the management of exploited fish populations because of its impacts on stock productivity and fisheries reference points. Persistent spatial variation in growth can also be used to guide how populations are assessed and managed. Grant’s research revealed latitudinal variation in growth from Texas to Virginia that may be used in the ongoing development of management strategies for this recreationally targeted fish.


Adams, GD, Leaf, RT, Ballenger, JA, Arnot, McDonough, SA. 2018. Spatial variability in the individual growth of Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) in the Southeast US: Implications for assessment and management. Fisheries Research 206: 35-43. doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2018.04.023.

Dr. Cao named outstanding reviewer of CJFAS in 2017

Dr. Jie Cao, one of the Punt lab’s new postdoctoral research associates, is one of three scientists acknowledged by the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences for their outstanding work and due diligence in the peer review process. The journal stated that “over the last year [these candidates] have consistently and expeditiously delivered comprehensive, discerning reviews to the Journal’s authors.” The peer review process is integral to the quality and credibility of science, and the level and quality of Jie’s participation is something to strive for!

PuntLab at IMBIZO 5

The 5th IMBIZO (Zulu word for gathering) took place at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 2 – 5 October. The meeting involved three workshops, one of which was “Management Strategy Evaluation: Achieving transparency in natural resource management by quantitatively bridging social and natural science uncertainties”. This workshop was co-chaired by Ingrid van Putten (CSIRO), Cisco Werner (NOAA) and ex-Punt-labber Gavin Fay (now an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth). André Punt gave the keynote address outlining the history of Management Strategy Evaluation and the challenges applying it. The Workshop also included a talk by SAFS alum Ana Parma and talks that covered the gamut from natural to social science. An outcome from the workshop is a planned paper on a general framework for providing decision support – watch this space..

Dr. Punt in Shanghai

André Punt visited the College of Marine Sciences at Shanghai Ocean University (SHOU) during April 2017. The aim of the visit was to establish collaborations with faculty and students at SHOU. The faculty at SHOU represent The People’s Republic of China at many Regional Fisheries Management Organizations such as the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR) and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Management Commission (WCPFC). André’s host in Shanghai, Dr. Xinjun Chen, the Dean of the College of Marine Sciences, is also the Chief Scientist for China’s distant-water fisheries. While in Shanghai, André gave talks on Management Strategy Evaluation and rebuilding of fish stocks in the US. He also got to see something of the city of Shanghai between meetings and lectures

SAFS in the News: Mislabeled seafood may be more sustainable, new study finds

SAFS grads, including Punt Lab member Qi Lee, are featured in UW Today. Qi Lee started the project during the SAFS Research Derby during its inaugural year prior to starting her degree.

‘With seafood, what you see is not always what you get.

It’s no secret that mislabeling is rampant around the world. Recent studies estimate up to 30 percent of seafood served in restaurants and sold in supermarkets is actually something other than what is listed on the menu or label.

Why mislabeling happens is a little squishier. Fraud, human error or marketing ploys — combined with an often multicountry traverse from boat to restaurant — make it possible you are eating a different fish than what’s on the menu.

A University of Washington study is the first to broadly examine the ecological and financial impacts of seafood mislabeling. The paper, published online Nov. 2 in Conservation Letters, finds that in most cases, mislabeling actually leads people to eat more sustainably, because the substituted fish is often more plentiful and of a better conservation status than the fish on the label.’

Excerpt by Michelle Ma, UW Today