Management strategy evaluation (also termed as management procedure approach, harvest strategy evaluation or operating management procedures) uses simulation models within an adaptive framework to evaluate management options. An ‘operating model’ (or a set of candidate models) is created to address all of the key biological processes, trade-offs and uncertainties to which an ideal management procedure would be robust (usually one model is chosen as a reference model). These operating models are used to compute how the resource responds to alternative scenarios. The performance of each model is then integrated over all the considered scenarios. Management strategy evaluation is typically used in the marine context to identify fishery rebuilding strategies and ongoing harvest strategies for setting and adjusting the total allowable catch, but terrestrial conservation applications are also likely.
The objective of the approach is to assess the consequences of alternative management strategies in a virtual world, taking multiple and often competing objectives into account. Thus, management strategy evaluation can be used to reveal the trade-offs in performance across a range of management objectives. Management strategy evaluation does not prescribe an optimal strategy; instead, it provides the decision maker with information about the implications of different options (intervention scenarios) on which a rational decision can be based.