Biological Reference Points for Management

Biological reference points (BRPs) are benchmarks for gauging the status of a stock or fishery (Table 1). Using a currency such as fishing mortality rate (F) or standing biomass (B), BRPs provide an avenue for rational guidance of fishery management. Their estimation is thus a primary goal of most fishery models.

Common BRPs come in two varieties: limit reference points (LRPs) and target reference points (TRPs). An LRP represents the maximum degree of safe exploitation, and a TRP represents the degree of exploitation sought by management. Given uncertainties in fishery modeling and management, the difference between a limit and target provides a buffer to prevent frequent overexploitation.

Maximum sustainable yield is the basis for several BRPs, such as FMSY or BMSY, often preferred on theoretical or legal grounds. When data are not sufficient to estimate MSY reliably, other BRPs are commonly used as proxies for MSY reference points. Probably the most widely applied proxies are those based on per-recruit analysis (see section titled 'Per-recruit analysis'). Almost all common BRPs require equilibrium assumptions.

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