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Performance evaluation of data-limited, length-based stock assessment methods

Performance evaluation of data-limited, length-based methods is instrumental in determining and quantifying their accuracy under various scenarios and in providing guidance about model applicability and limitations. We conducted a simulation–estimation analysis to compare the performance of four length-based stock assessment methods: length-based Thompson and Bell (TB), length-based spawning potential ratio (LBSPR), length-based integrated mixed effects (LIME), and length-based risk analysis (LBRA), under varying life history, exploitation status, and recruitment error scenarios. Across all scenarios, TB and LBSPR were the most consistent and accurate assessment methods. LBRA is highly biased, but precautionary, and LIME is more suitable for assessments with time-series longer than a year. All methods have difficulties when assessing short-lived species. The methods are less accurate in estimating the degree of recruitment overfishing when the stocks are severely overexploited, and inconsistent in determining growth overfishing when the stocks are underexploited. Increased recruitment error reduces precision but can decrease bias in estimations. This study highlights the importance of quantifying the accuracy of stock assessment methods and testing methods under different scenarios to determine their strengths and weaknesses and provides guidance on which methods to employ in various situations.

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