Piloting risk-based decision frameworks on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife


Ocean Science Trust (OST) is exploring a class of tools called ecological risk assessments (ERAs) that may help the State prioritize fisheries for fishery management plan (FMP) development, as well as inform management actions for individual fisheries and guide plans for future data collection and monitoring activities.

This project is being developed for consideration by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to help inform the state’s process to amend the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) Master Plan. All final products from this project will be submitted to CDFW for review and may be integrated, in full or in part, into a draft Master Plan Amendment. Additional information about the amendment process, including key resources and opportunities for stakeholder engagement, is available here.

Project Scope

Phase I: Select and apply a Productivity Susceptibility Analysis on target species
Project timeline: 2015 – 2016

Fisheries management prioritization has been identified as an important component of CDFW’s Draft Amended Framework for MLMA-Based Management. One approach to evaluate prioritization is to understand the risk of fishing activity to target species. Starting in late 2015, OST engaged a consultant team, MRAG Americas, to conduct a NOAA Productivity Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) on 45 species/sector/gear type combinations, representing 36 California state-managed species.




Phase II: Pilot a habitat and bycatch Ecological Risk Assessment and document lessons learned
Project timeline: March 2016 – August 2017

OST is customizing an Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) for California based on a tool developed by NOAA Fisheries (Samhouri and Levin, 2012). The goal of this second phase of the project is to evaluate the relative risk a fishery may cause to the target stock, bycatch species, and marine and coastal habitats. As part of this process, the project team is sharing pilot results, lessons learned, and recommendations for tool refinement and implementation with CDFW and interested stakeholders.


Stakeholder Workshops to Explore ERAs as a Potential Prioritization Tool to Support Fisheries Management in California

Two workshops, one in northern California and one in southern California, were held in June and July 2017 to explore the role that ERAs may have in prioritizing and informing the management of California fisheries.

Fisheries experts were invited to:

  • Review draft ERA scoring for five pilot fisheries as examples for considering target species, along with habitat and bycatch risks, and provide feedback on the tools related to CDFW and stakeholder priorities.
  • Explore PSA, another type of risk assessment, which focuses on the risk of fishing activity to fisheries, and its preliminary results.
  • Learn about the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) Master Plan amendment process, including how ERA may support CDFW’s broader prioritization goals.

Southern California: Long Beach
Date: Thursday, June 15
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: Veteran’s Park Community Center

Northern California: Santa Rosa
Date: Thursday, July 27
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Location: Justice Joseph A. Rattigan Building


  • Handouts 
    • Agenda (here)
    • Productivity Susceptibility Overview (PDF)
    • Summary of Workshop Key Themes and Discussion (here)
    • Draft pilot ERA score sheet (.xls file here)
  • Powerpoint presentations
    • Introduction slides (here)
    • Productivity Susceptibility Analysis slides (45 fisheries) (here)
    • Ecological Risk Assessment slides (9 pilot fisheries) (here)


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