Defining and Assessing Adverse Environmental Impact Symposium, 2001View this Special Issue
Research Article | Open Access
Measurement Error Affects Risk Estimates for Recruitment to the Hudson River Stock of Striped Bass
We examined the consequences of ignoring the distinction between measurement error and natural variability in an assessment of risk to the Hudson River stock of striped bass posed by entrainment at the Bowline Point, Indian Point, and Roseton power plants. Risk was defined as the probability that recruitment of age-1+ striped bass would decline by 80% or more, relative to the equilibrium value, at least once during the time periods examined (1, 5, 10, and 15 years). Measurement error, estimated using two abundance indices from independent beach seine surveys conducted on the Hudson River, accounted for 50% of the variability in one index and 56% of the variability in the other. If a measurement error of 50% was ignored and all of the variability in abundance was attributed to natural causes, the risk that recruitment of age-1+ striped bass would decline by 80% or more after 15 years was 0.308 at the current level of entrainment mortality (11%). However, the risk decreased almost tenfold (0.032) if a measurement error of 50% was considered. The change in risk attributable to decreasing the entrainment mortality rate from 11 to 0% was very small (0.009) and similar in magnitude to the change in risk associated with an action proposed in Amendment #5 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic striped bass (0.006)— an increase in the instantaneous fishing mortality rate from 0.33 to 0.4. The proposed increase in fishing mortality was not considered an adverse environmental impact, which suggests that potentially costly efforts to reduce entrainment mortality on the Hudson River stock of striped bass are not warranted.