Stock monitoring and responsible harvesting

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course aims to provide a fundamental introduction to how we monitor fish stocks, both by fisheries dependent and fisheries independent methods. A focus will be to provide the students with a comprehensive understanding of how acoustic and capture- based fisheries independent monitoring methods are applied to support sustainable fisheries.

Age-structured stock assessment models are an essential scientific basis for responsible harvesting, and the course will give an overview of survey design and methods providing abundance indices by age in acoustic - and trawl surveys. Other survey methods will also be presented.

FAO¿s classification system of gear types, and the requirements for a responsible, sustainable resource- and environment-friendly fishery, will be presented. The construction and function of different gear types, and the biological capture characteristics of these will be described. The importance of different fish behaviour and reaction towards gear stimuli and vessel avoidance will be emphasized, and how this affects catchability, selectivity and survey results. Selection attributes in different gear types and estimation of gear selectivity probabilities will be covered.

The lectures will also introduce physical and biological principles for hydro-acoustic detection and measurement of marine organisms, with focus on abundance estimation of fish and plankton. The course will include practical assignments on the function and operation of scientific echo sounders and echo integrators.

Finally, the course will introduce new technological developments in the field of hydro-acoustics, gear types, and optical tools, and how these will provide new possibilities to observe and understand aquatic ecosystems under change.

A mandatory 2-day student cruise will be carried out, and the students will in co-operation produce a scientific survey report. The report shall be presented orally and in writing.

Students in the Master's Programme in Biology, specialisation Fisheries Biology and Management (compulsory course), and specialisation Marine Biology (elective course), will be prioritised.

Learning Outcomes


The candidate can:

  • explain main principles of monitoring harvested stocks (fisheries-dependent and independent methods)
  • clarify statistical advantages and limitations of different sampling designs
  • explain the main foundations for a sound sampling design, and statistical advantages and limitations in different designs
  • describe main principles of underwater acoustics monitoring and the acoustic back-scattering properties of fish and other aquatic organisms
  • formulate the assumptions of echo integration
  • summarize the main biases and limitations of acoustic trawl surveys
  • describe the main principles for age reading of otoliths and fish shells
  • describe the main princinples and assumptions for egg surveys
  • describe the main principles and assumptions for mark and recapture surveys for estimation of population size
  • compare typical designs, characteristics and functions of different fishing gears used globally, and how the use of these affect organisms and environments
  • evaluate which fishing gear attributes affect catchability and species- and size-selection of the different gear types


The candidate can:

  • construct a scientifically based survey design
  • structure and write a scientific survey report
  • collate survey data to calculate abundance indices per age in acoustic and trawl surveys
  • perform acoustic abundance estimation of different species in an area based on echo-integration
  • master methods for quantification of selection curves in nets and trawls

General competence

The candidate can:

  • communicate subject matter orally and in writing, both in an academic and popular scientific manner
  • find, compile and evaluate fisheries relevant literature
  • understand and discuss the relevance of fisheries in society

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Master. Students in the Master's Programme in Biology, specialisation Fisheries Biology and Management (compulsory course), and specialisation Marine Biology (elective course), will be prioritised.

Semester of Instruction


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information. You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday the week after the deadline.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section ( time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course description website, or on Mitt UiB.

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
BIO325 Ocean Science or equivalent course.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
BIO280 Fish Biology I - Systematics and Anatomy or equivalent course.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
5 ECTS overlap with BIO336 Fish Capture and Monitoring and 5 ECTS overlap with BIO333 Acoustic Methods in Fisheries and Marine Biology (discontinued courses).
Access to the Course
In order to be admitted to the course, you must be admitted to a master¿s programme or the doctoral education (PhD) programme at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and fulfill required previous knowledge.
Teaching and learning methods
  • Lectures: 2 hours per week for 12 weeks.
  • Course assignments/seminars: 6 hours per week, for 4 weeks.
  • Excursion to gear manufacture site/cruise: 2 days.
  • Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • Attendance at calculation exercises/seminars.
  • Approved written assignment.
  • Participation in excursion to gear manufacture site/cruise (2 days).
  • Compulsory activities have to be approved in order to take the exam. Please note: Approved compulsory activities are only valid for 1 semester; the semester of completion of the activity.

    Forms of Assessment
  • Oral exam, accounts for 100% of final grade.
  • Grading Scale
    The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade, grade F is a fail.
    Assessment Semester
    The exam is only held in semesters with teaching; the spring semester.
    Reading List
    The literature list will be available 1st of July for the autumn semester and 1st of December for the spring semester. You find the literature list under "Resources" at the top right, or on Mitt UiB.
    Course Evaluation
    Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find course evaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.
    Examination Support Material
    Programme Committee
    The Programme Board for Biology is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the course.
    Course Administrator