Ices Journal of Marine Science
Data conflicts present difficulties in running integrated assessment models as shown by the age-structured assessment (ASA) model for the Pacific herring population in Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska. After the 1989 "Exxon Valdez" oil spill in PWS, the Pacific herring (Clupea pollosi) ASA model indicated a significant decline in the population, starting in winter 1992. Back-calculated estimates from hydroacoustic abundance surveys that started in 1993 suggested that the ASA model overestimated herring biomass from 1990 to 1992 and that the population decline actually began in 1989. To expose data conflicts, we incorporated the hydroacoustic survey information with all available spawning population indices directly into the age-structured model. In this way, the substantial uncertainty about population parameters from 1989 to 1992 attributable to data conflicts was quantified. Consequently, the magnitude of declines for that period estimated from both linear and ASA models depend on the type of integrated datasets and weighting, particularly with indices of male spawners. Our view is that a major decline started in 1992 when disease affected a large population that was in weakened condition. Other views are consistent with the existing data too.
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