Because of the substantial economic value of fisheries, population dynamics of fish (here taken to include similarly exploited living resources such as crustaceans, mollusks, reptiles, and marine mammals) is one of the oldest realms in quantitative population ecology. For over 100 years, scientists have been developing mathematical models of fish populations.

Any such field will have given rise to specialized terms. In fish population dynamics, this includes the term 'stock', which for practical purposes is synonymous with the biological term 'population'. In this article, the terms stock and population are used interchangeably.

The goals of much work in fish population dynamics are to evaluate the effects of fishing and to provide advice for policy makers on whether fishing should be increased or decreased. For that reason, special attention has been given to estimating the fishing mortality rate and whether it is above or below some optimal value. This focus is also relevant biologically because in many exploited stocks, the strongest force of mortality on adult fish is fishing.

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