FarFish runs a course on the use of the FarFish Data Limited Methods tool developed in the project

One of many outputs from the FarFish project is the FarFish DLM tool, which is a software tool that enables users to estimate stock size of fish species and level of sustainable exploitation with limited data availability.

The FarFish DLM tool and user guide is available on the FarFish website here: Software Tools

The FarFish project facilitated a Data Limited Methods Course to demonstrate and build capacities in using the tool. The course took place on Sept 29th  – Oct 1st  2021. The aim of the course was to explore some methods used for stock assessment when data available is very limited. The theory behind and their implementation was explained, as well as their advantages and limitations. An emphasis on data input and results expected regarding establishing some reference points for sustainable exploitation was also provided.

The DLM course was attended by approximately 40 persons in total

The course was run as part of the UNESCO-GRO-Fisheries Training Programme and was attended by approximately 30 participants that attended in person, and around 10 persons that connected remotely. The students/attendees were enabled to use own data relevant for their national fisheries and were tutored by the FarFish DLM tool’s main creator Margarita Rincón from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The skills learned from this course will be directly applicable for exploratory stock assessments for fisheries of the countries of the participants.

Margarita Rinchón is the main creator of the FarFish DLM tool

Tutor Web: Education in a suitcase

This course will take place in 2021

Among the key objectives of the H2020 project FarFish is to build capacities in stock assessment and fisheries management.

Among the training and capacity building tools developed in the project are e-learning courses that are made available on Tutor-web. The focus of these courses is on Methods and techniques for data-limited fisheries. A report has now been published that provides a summary of the educational materials that have been developed as part of FarFish for tutor-web, the report is available here.

The materials include updates of previously existing tutor-web courses that have been tailored for FarFish, as well as new teaching materials directed at FarFish target audience. The material is made available in the tutor-web as a single course, under the heading “Methods and techniques for data-limited fisheries.” It consists of multiple tutorials, providing material and drills at various stages of development, on topics from prerequisite mathematics, statistics and programming, through introductory fish population dynamics to methods for data-limited fisheries. The choice of material is in large part based on discussions, meetings and interviews with potential users.

A course using the Education in a Suitcase model and the Tutor Web platform will be held in cooperation with the Seychelles Fishing Authority. Date: TBD

Data Limited Methods Training

This course will take place in 2021

The in-country short course is developed based upon the needs identified in the Training Needs Assessment, while building upon the work developed by other partners in the FarFish project.

In this way, the in-country short course is both a tool for capacity building in the GRÓ-FTP’s partner countries, as a reinforcement of our ongoing capacity building initiatives, and as a tool for systematic dissemination of results of the FarFish project for stakeholders in case study countries.

It was determined early on in the planning process that to maximise impacts, this course should be held as a regional course, allowing all case study partners to participate. Upon completion of the training needs assessment, stock assessment competencies were identified as one common capacity need for each of the partner institutions evaluated.


Based on the TNAs, and subsequent meetings with Case Study leaders and other FarFish partners, it was determined that the most useful topic for all involved would be to focus on training scientists working the case study institutions on the use of a Data Limited Methods Tool developed by the FarFish project.

The DLM Tool is built from existing methodologies for stock assessment where data availability is limited. Underlying this is the theory that even with limited data, some crude stock assessment methodologies can still be applied, and can still be useful. These methodologies all have trade-offs. The DLM Tool created by FarFish is a system which allows the user to input any data that exists, and see which data limited methods may be used to analyse that data, what the limitations of the methods are, and what data might be useful to collect in the future for more robust analysis.

Course Description:

The DLM course will take place in Mindelo, Cabo Verde, hosted by the INDP. It will regional in focus, with participants from CRODT in Senegal and IMROP in Mauritania. As SFA (Seychelles) has significant unspent budget for the FarFish project, it was suggested that they also send 2 representatives to participate in the course, through their own funding.

We expect the course to take place over 3 days as soon as travel to Cabo Verde is possible. We hope that this will happen in 2021. The course materials were prepared in late February 2020, through collaboration between a FarFish representative from the Spanish CSIC Margarita Rincon, who developed the DLM tool, and a GRÓ-FTP fellow from CRODT in Senegal, Kamarel Ba, who participated in the 6-month course in Iceland through the FarFish cooperation. These two experts will be the lead teachers for the course.


Participants are nominated by their institutions.

  • INDP/IMAR: 5 participants
  • CRODT: 5 participants
  • IMROP: 5 participants
  • SFA: 2 participants (self-funded)


CSIC/IEO: Margarita Rincon, lead instructor

CRODT: Kamarel Ba, instructor

Marine and Freshwater Research Institute of Iceland: Jonas Jónasson, support instructor

GRÓ-FTP: Mary Frances Davidson, reporting and course evaluation

GRÓ-FTP training

This is an ongoing course

As part of the FarFish project, the UNESCO GRÓ-Fisheries Training Programme has committed to invite 5 expert researchers from FarFish case study countries for its 6 month post-graduate training programme in Iceland.

This intensive, six month post-graduate training programme targets experienced fisheries professionals from developing countries. The programme offers specialisations in four different fields of fisheries and aquaculture; namely stock assessment and gear technology, quality management in fish handling and processing, fisheries policy and management, and sustainable aquaculture. The training consists of a one-week orientation, a 5 week introductory course, a six week specialist course and an individual research project. Apart from local lecturers, world renowned experts in different fields of fisheries are invited as guest lecturers each year.

Built on Training Needs Assessments conducted early on in the FarFish project, the GRÓ-FTP selected candidates from partner organisations in Cabo Verde, Senegal, Mauritania, and Seychelles to participate. There research projects are available on the groftp.is website.

One of the FTP fellows from Cabo Verde selected to participate in the six-month training was Ms. Alicainy da Luz.

Alciany is a marine biologist working at INDP in Mindelo. Her research conducted through the UNU-FTP related to the creation of an age-length key for the blackspot picarel, an important species in the artisanal sector in Cabo Verde. Though INDP had collected otoliths from the blackspot picarel for several years, these samples had never been analysed. Alciany took on the ambitious task to analyse otoliths from 134 specimens and along the way, create a procedure which will guide the ageing of similar samples in the future.

Alciany da Luz

Below is the abstract from Alciany’s work.

Blackspot picarel (Spicara melanurus) is a fish species from the Sparidae familyand is an important species for the artisanal fisheryin Cape Verde.Despite being commercially important, stock assessment is not performed for this species due to limited knowledge oflife storytraitsand a lack of methodology to investigate the age ofthe species.In this study, methodology to estimate ageof blackspot picarelfromCape Verde waters, was investigatedby counting otolith increments and by measuring otolith size. Otoliths from 134 specimensranging in fork length from 4.5 cm to 29 cm were analysed. Increments becamevisible once the otolith wassectioned,polished, image taken,andthe image enhanced. An age-length key was produced. The precision of the ageing method was estimated by replicating increment count for 23% of otoliths. For replicas, the mean coefficient of variation was 8.76%which is acceptable. The maximum age estimated was 17 years and the von Bertalanffy growth parameterswere 𝐿∞=36.17𝑐𝑚, 𝑘=0.09𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟−1, 𝑡0=0.89𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟. This suggests that blackspot picarel is a slow-growing and a long-livedspecies. Maturity-at-age was 7.1 years. The relationship between specimen length and otolith dimension, and between specimen age and otolith dimensions was strong and explained 89% or more of variance in otolith dimensions. The age-length key, maturity-at-age, and growth rate provide vital information for stock assessment.

Another one of the FTP fellows from Cabo Verde selected to participate in the six-month training was Mr. Nuno Vieira.

Nuno is a biologist and ocean specialist with the INDP and the Ocean Science Centre of Mindelo (OSCM). His research with the UNU-FTP related to a recent decline in the stock of mackerel scad, a small pelagic fish with significant economic importance to the Cabo Verdean economy. Nuno‘s study aimed to determine if the decline in catches in recent years could be better attributed to fishing pressure or environmental factors. The results of his research will have clear implications on how the stock is managed in the future.

Nuno Vieria

Below is the abstract from Nuno’s work.

Makerel scad is one of the most important small pelagic fisheries in Cape Verdean waters, having enormous social and economic importance, and is used as bait and food and in the canning industry. INDP official landing data recorded between 1989 to 2015 indicate that mackerel scad made up almost 40 % of Cabe Verdean total catches at the peak of its fishery in 1997 and 1998. After this peak the catch decreased significantly, especially in the last six years, representing only 6.6 % of landings in 2015 or 642 tonnes. The main goal of this study was to assess if the fluctuations and recent decline in mackerel scad catch in Cape Verdeans waters are caused by harvesting or by changes in environmental parameters. The data analysed was provided by reconstructed catch data during the time frame 1950 to 2014 from the research initiative Sea Around Us, official landing and effort data from INDP in the period from 1989 to 2015, biological data from INDP in the period 1989 to 2018, and sea surface temperature and chlorophyll-a from satellite observation. The growth parameters K and L∞, the recruitment pattern and the total mortality were computed in the software FISAT II, the biomass was estimated by the Shaefer model using the Sea Around Us reconstructed catch data and CPUE data from INDP for both fleet, and simple linear regression was applied to see the correlation between the catch data and environmental parameters. The growth parameters computed from FISAT II indicate L∞ = 40.6 cm, K = 0.450 year-1, Z = 3.23 year-1, F = 2.31 year-1, M = 0.92 year-1. The biomass estimated by the Shaefer model indicate an MSY of 5,619 tonnes using the Sea Around Us catch and artisanal CPUE from INDP, and 5,686 tonnes using the Sea Around Us catch and industrial CPUE from INDP. The correlation between catch and environmental parameters, showed an R2 = 0.043 when catch is correlated with sea surface temperature, and R2 = 0.21 when catch is correlated with chlorophyll-a. There are indicators that the stock is declining, but not conclusive, hence the fishing effort should be reduced until more information is known. The stock did not show strong links to environmental factors, further studies and improved sampling procedures are recommended to get more information on the stock.

Dr. Kamarel Ba is a scientist with ISRA/CRODT in Senegal, a FarFish partner.

He conducted research through the GRÓ Fisheries Training programme in Iceland on a topic quite relevant for the FarFish project:

Kamarel Ba

Below is the abstract from Kamarel’s work.

Shared by three countries (Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal), the black hakes (Merluccius polli and M. senegalensis) stocks are some of the most important resource exploited in northwest African waters. Since they resemble each other and are caught together in high proportions, the fisheries statistics record them as one species. The catches were high in the 1970s before sharply declining since 1980 as a result of an intense exploitation by the domestic and foreign vessels using bottom-trawls and longlines. Each of these countries has its own records about catch, efforts, CPUE and catch composition which generally led to pooled stock assessments during CECAF Working Groups. This study attempts to perform stock assessments using regional data (catches in metrics and in length composition) from FAO reports and data-limited methods such as Catch-MSY and Length-Based Spawning Potential Ratio (LBSPR)model as a preliminary work in order to compare reference points with existing literature and consolidate them for the fisheries management purpose. The objectives of this study were to (1) obtain information about life history parameters of both species from literature review, (2) estimate natural mortality rate M and M/k using data-limited methods, (3) provide recommendations based on assessments of black hakes using Catch-MSY and LBSPR models. Sensitivity analyses were also performed to test the reliability of the results according to some changes in the input parameters. The results from Catch-MSY assessments showed that the MSY ranged between 19,400 and 29,150 tonnes, according to the scenarios. The BMSY values were very high (137,000-352,000 tonnes), resulting in a high carrying capacity K. However, the intrinsic growth rates were very low (0.12 to 0.30). For the LBSPR assessments, the spawning potential ratio appeared too low (SPR < 0.2) for most cases suggesting recruitment overfishing. Finally, this study recommends to update life history parameters (L50, L95, k,L∞, t0and M) regarding both species for stock assessment purpose and separate the two species in the fisheries departments statistics (catches, effort, CPUE and length frequencies) which could help scientists to assess them individually and give management advices based on accurate data

Marine Management and Innovation Course

This course is completed

On March 9-13th 2020, UiT held a FarFish certificate course in Marine Management and Innovation at Campus Tromsø. 29 participants from 14 countries took part, and among the participants were students and researchers from UiT, as well as invited stakeholders and online participants.

Throughout the week, participants were educated on topics such as international ocean governance, traceability, value and supply chains, and economics – discussions were engaging and fruitful! Social activities were also on the daily agenda, where the most memorable activity was the beautiful boat trip around the Tromsø area on a small, old fishing vessel in sunshiny weather.

Lectures were recorded and uploaded to UiT’s online storage Mediasite where they will be available for five years.