The Stock Identification Methods Working Group (SIMWG) reviews new methods for the defi-nition and investigation of stock structure and provides recommendations to other ICES expert groups on how to interpret patterns of population structure.
In 2022, SIMWG continued providing annual updates on recent applications of stock identifica-tion methods to species assessed by ICES and on advances in stock identification methods. Based on the wide expertise of SIMWG members, we provide reviews of recent literature on genetics, growth marks in calcified structures, life history parameters, morphometrics/ meristics, tagging, otolith shape, otolith chemistry, parasites and interdisciplinary approaches.
A key activity of SIMWG is to address requests by ICES working groups for technical recom-mendations on issues of stock identity. In the current term, we reviewed the outcome of the Workshop on Stock Identification of North Sea Cod (WKNSCodID) and the report of a project on herring stock structure upon request by the ICES Herring Assessment Working Group (HAWG). Moreover, SIMWG members contributed to the preparation of the Benchmark Work-shop for selected elasmobranch stocks (WKELASMO) and reviewed the outcome of the Work-shop on Stock Identification of West of Scotland Sea Cod (WK6aCodID). In 2022, the group re-viewed and discussed stock structure of hake and anglerfish stocks by request of the Working Group for the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Waters Ecoregion (WGBIE) and of anchovy by re-quest of the Working Group on Southern Horse Mackerel, Anchovy, and Sardine (WGHANSA).
SIMWG contributes to the general understanding of the biological features of the north Atlantic ecosystem through its work to describe fish population structure. Additionally, SIMWG’s annual reviews on advances in stock identification methods keep ICES members abreast of best practices in this field of study. SIMWG expert reviews on questions of stock structure for particular ICES species are directly relevant to the appropriate definition of stock and contribute to the accuracy of stock assessment and effectiveness of management actions. We see an important role for SIMWG in the future as ICES copes with the shifting distributions of fishery resources and ques-tions regarding the appropriate definition of fish stocks. Understanding stock structure is a fun-damental requirement before any assessment or modelling on a stock can be contemplated and SIMWG will continue to work with ICES expert groups to address pressing stock identification issues.