Dr. Robyn Forrest

Image Forrest, Robyn
Research Scientist

Research Scientist, Quantitative Assessment Methods Section, Stock Assessment and Research Division

Current research and/or projects

Dr Robyn Forrest is a Research Scientist at the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo. She is a member of the Quantitative Assessment Methods Section, which collaboratively develops quantitative methods and tools to improve advice for sustainable management of Pacific fisheries.

Her work supports implementation of Canada's Sustainable Fisheries Framework and operationalization of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM), especially for Pacific groundfish species.

Her main research interests are: management strategy evaluation (MSE) for fisheries; implementation of ecosystem-based fishery management; quantifying links between fish productivity, reference points and sustainable management for data-limited species; performance of fishery management systems; and improving linkages between Indigenous Knowledge Systems and management of fisheries.  

Current projects include:

  • Development and simulation-testing a framework to select management procedures for data-limited groundfish species (Anderson et al. 2021; Haggarty et al. 2022).
  • Using simulation to identify robust approaches for accounting for environmental change in strategic and tactical management of fisheries.
  • Analysis of spatial changes in fishing effort in BC's groundfish fishery following major management changes (Forrest et al. 2020; Gale et al. 2022).
  • A new collaboration between DFO, the Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nation and Oceana on a case study to apply the ideas in Frid et al. 2023.

Since 2016, she has fostered a major partnership between DFO and the developers of openMSE, a powerful MSE software package to support decision-making for Canadian fish stocks along the continuum of data-availability. openMSE has so far been used to support development of a Management Procedure Framework for BC groundfish stocks (Anderson et al. 2021); the rebuilding plan for Inside Yelloweye Rockfish (Haggarty et al. 2022); and management advice for Bay of Fundy Herring.

She is a member of DFO's National Sustainable Fisheries Working Group, which is tasked with interpretation and operationalization of the new Fish Stocks provisions of Canada's Fisheries Act. She is chair of the Technical Expertise on Stock Assessment (TESA) committee, which provides training and workshop opportunities for DFO stock assessment staff.

Recent stock assessments for BC groundfish include Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus), Arrowtooth Flounder (Atheresthes stomas), and the inside stock of Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus).

Education and awards


  • PhD (2008), University of British Columbia
  • BSc (Hons 1, Medal) (2000), University of Sydney, Australia
  • BA (1988), Curtin University, Western Australia

International experience and/or work

  • Dr Forrest represents Canada as a member of the Advisory Committee of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
  • She was Canadian Advisor to the Commissioners of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) from 2011 to 2016.
  • She recently collaborated with scientists at the IPHC on a study evaluating avoidance of rockfish habitat by the BC Halibut fleet following major reductions in Yelloweye Rockfish quota (Forrest et al. 2020).
  • In 2011 and 2012, she collaborated with NOAA scientists on stock assessments for Pacific Hake (Merluccius productus).
  • In 2006, she collaborated with scientists at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), evaluating impacts of trawl fisheries and comparing strategic advice arising from structurally-distinct ecosystem models (Forrest et al. 2015 and Savina et al. 2013).

Key publications

Primary publications

Karp, W. A., Melnychuk, M. C., Forrest, R. E., Little, L. R., McQuaw, K., Demarest, C., Hilborn, R., Baker, N., Mose, B., Turris, B., & Lado, E. P. (2024). Quota use in mixed-stock fisheries. Fish and Fisheries, 25, 251–267. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12806

English, P. A., Picco, C. M., Edwards, J. C., Haggarty, D. R., Forrest, R. E., & Anderson, S. C. (2024). Spatial restrictions hinder avoidance of choke species in an Indigenous rights-based fishery. People and Nature, 6, 75–90. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10554

Frid, A., Wilson, K. L., Walkus, J., Forrest, R. E., & Reid, M. (2023). Re-imagining the precautionary approach to make collaborative fisheries management inclusive of Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Fish and Fisheries, 24, 940–958. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12778

Forrest, R.E., Kronlund, A. R., Cleary, J., & Grinnell, M. H. 2023. An evidence-based approach for selecting a limit reference point for Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) stocks in British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 80(7): 1071-1083. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2022-0168

Gale, K. S. P., Forrest, R. E., Rooper, C. N., Nephin, J., Wallace, S., Driscoll, J., & Rubidge, E. 2022. Evaluation of collaboratively-developed management measures to reduce coral and sponge bycatch in a fully-monitored multispecies trawl fishery. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 79(9): 1420-1434. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2021-0274

English, P. A., Ward, E. J., Rooper, C. N., Forrest, R. E., Rogers, L. A., Hunter, K. L., Edwards, A. M., Connors, B. M., & Anderson, S. C. (2022). Contrasting climate velocity impacts in warm and cool locations show that effects of marine warming are worse in already warmer temperate waters. Fish and Fisheries, 23, 239–255. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12613

Forrest, R.E., Stewart, Ian J., Monnahan, Cole C., Bannar-Martin, Katherine, H., Lacko, Lisa, C. 2020. Evidence for rapid avoidance of rockfish habitat under reduced quota and comprehensive at-sea monitoring in the British Columbia Pacific Halibut fishery. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 77(8): 1409-1420. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2019-0444

Huynh QC, Hordyk AR, Forrest RE, Porch CE, Anderson SC, Carruthers TR. The interim management procedure approach for assessed stocks: Responsive management advice and lower assessment frequency. Fish Fish. 2020; 21: 663–679. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12453

Guo, C., Fu, C., Forrest, R.E., Olsen, N., Liu, H., Verley, H. and Shin, Y-J. 2019. Ecosystem-based reference points under varying climate conditions and fisheries management strategies. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 76: 7, 2045–2059, https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsz120

Godefroid, M., Boldt, J., Thorson, J., Forrest, R.E., Gauthier, S., Flostrand, L., Perry, I., Ross, A., Galbraith, A. 2019. Spatio-temporal models provide new insights on the biotic and abiotic drivers shaping Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasi) distribution. Progress in Oceanography 102198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2019.102198

Forrest, R.E., Holt, K.E, and Kronlund, A.R. 2018. Performance of alternative harvest control rules for two Pacific groundfish stocks with uncertain natural mortality: Bias, robustness and trade-offs. Fisheries Research 206: 259–286. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2018.04.007

Forrest, R.E., Savina, M., Fulton, E.A., Pitcher, T.J.. 2015.Do marine ecosystem models give consistent policy evaluations?A comparison of Atlantis and Ecosim. Fisheries Research, 167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2015.03.010

Mangel, M., MacCall, A.D., Brodziak, J., Dick, E.J., Forrest, R.E., Pourzand, R., and Ralston, S. 2013. A perspective on steepness and its implications for strategic fishery management and stock assessment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 70, pg. 930-940. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2012-0372

Savina, M., Fulton, E.A., Forrest, R.E., Condie, S.A.. 2013.Ecological effects of trawling fisheries on the east Australian continental shelf: a modelling study. Marine and Freshwater Research, Vol. 64(11), pg.1068-1086. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12361

Forrest, R.E., McAllister, M.K., Martell, S.J.D, Walters, C.J. 2013.Modelling the effects of density dependent mortality in juvenile red snapper caught as bycatch in Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries: implications for management. Fisheries Research, 146: 102-120.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2013.04.002

Brown, C.J., Fulton, E.A., Hobday, A.J., Matear, R., Possingham, H., Bulman, C., Christensen, V., Forrest, R.E., Gehrke, P.C., Gribble, N.A., Griffiths S.P., Lozano-Montes, H., Martin, J.M., Metcalf, S., Okey, T.A., Watson, R., Richardson, A.J. 2010.Effects of climate-driven primary production change on marine food webs: implications for fisheries and conservation. Global Change Biology, 16(4): 1194-1212. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.02046.x

Forrest, R.E., McAllister, M.K., Dorn, M., Martell, S.J.D, Stanley, R.. 2010.Hierarchical Bayesian estimation of productivity and reference points for Pacific rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) under alternative assumptions about the stock-recruit function. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 67(10): 1611-1634. https://doi.org/10.1139/F10-077

Dulvy, N.K., Forrest, R.E.. 2010.Life histories, population dynamics and extinction risks in chondrichthyans. Sharks and their Relatives II. Biodiversity, Adaptive Physiology and Conservation, pg. 639-679

Forrest, R.E., Walters, C.J.. 2009.Estimating thresholds to optimal harvest rate for long-lived, low-fecundity sharks accounting for selectivity and density dependence in recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 66(12): 2062-2080. https://doi.org/10.1139/F09-137

Forrest, R.E., Martell, S.J.D., Melnychuk, M.C., Walters, C.J. 2008.An age-structured model with leading management parameters, incorporating age-specific selectivity and maturity. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 65(2): 286-296. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2012-0372

Pitcher, T.J., Ainsworth,C.H., Buchary,E., Cheung,W., Forrest,R.E., Haggan,N., Lozano,H., Morato,T., Morissette, L. 2005. Strategic Management of Marine Ecosystems using Whole-Ecosystem simulation Modelling: The Back to the Future Policy Approach. Strategic Management of Marine Ecosystems. NATO Science Series IV. Earth and Environmental Sciences. , Vol. 50. Proceedings from the NATO-ASI Symposium on Strategic Management of Marine Ecosystems. Antibes, France. Oct 1-11, 2003.

Pitcher, T.J., Watson, R., Forrest, R.E., Valtýsson, H., Guénette, S. 2002.Estimating illegal and unreported catches from marine ecosystems: A basis for change. Fish and Fisheries, 3(4): 317-339. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-2979.2002.00093.x

Forrest, R.E., Chapman, M.G., Underwood, A.J.. 2001.Quantification of radular marks as a method for estimating grazing of intertidal gastropods on rocky shores. Journal of Experimental Biology and Ecology, 258: 155-171. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-0981(01)00212-X

Secondary publications

Barrett, T.J., Marentette, J.R., Forrest, R.E., Anderson, S.C., Holt, C.A., Ings, D.W., and Thiess, M.E. 2024. Technical Considerations for Stock Status and Limit Reference Points under the Fish Stocks Provisions. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2024/029. v + 57 p. 

DFO. 2024. Status Update of Pacifc Cod (Gadus macrocephalus) off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 2023. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2024/003.

DFO. 2023. Science Advice on Guidance for Limit Reference Points under the Fish Stocks Provisions. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2023/009.

Haggarty, D.R., Huynh, Q.C., Forrest, R.E., Anderson, S.C., Bresch, M.J., Keppel, E.A. 2022. Evaluation of potential rebuilding strategies for Inside Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2021/008. vi + 139 p.

Anderson, S.C., Forrest, R.E., Huynh, Q.C., Keppel, E.A. 2021. A management procedure framework for groundfish in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2021/007. vi + 139 p.

Marentette, J.R., Kronlund, A.R., Healey, B., Forrest, R., Holt, C. 2021. Promoting Sustainability in the context of the Fish Stocks Provisions and the Fisheries Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2021/062. viii + 51 p.

DFO. 2021. Status Update of Pacifc Cod (Gadus macrocephalus) for West Coast Vancouver Island (Area 3CD), and Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound (Area 5ABCD) in 2020. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2021/002. 

DFO. 2021. A Management Procedure Framework for Groundfish In British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2021/002.

DFO. 2020. Evaluation of Management Procedures for the Inside Population of Yelloweye Rockfish Rebuilding Plan in British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2020/056.  

Forrest, R.E., Anderson, S.C., Grandin, C.J., and Paul J. Starr. 2020. Assessment of Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus) for Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound (Area 5ABCD), and West Coast Vancouver Island (Area 3CD) in 2018. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2020/070. v + 215 p.

DFO. 2019. Assessment of British Columbia Pacific Cod for Areas 3CD, and 5ABCD in 2018. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2019/008.

Kronlund, A.R., Forrest, R.E., Cleary, J.S., and Grinnell, M.H. 2018. The Selection and Role of Limit Reference Points for Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) in British Columbia, Canada. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2018/009. ix +125 p.

Grandin, C. and Forrest, R. 2017. Arrowtooth Flounder (Atheresthes stomias) Stock Assessment for the West Coast of British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2017/025. v + 87 p.

DFO. 2016. Proceedings of the Pacific regional peer review on A Review of International Best Practices to Assigning Species to Tiers for the Purposes of Stock Assessment Based on Data Availability and Richness; May 30-31, 2016. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 2016/051. 73 + viii pp.  

Forrest, R.E., Rutherford, K.L, Lacko, L., Kronlund, A.R., Starr, P.J., McClelland, E.K. 2015.  Assessment of Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus) for Hecate Strait (5CD) and Queen Charlotte Sound (5AB) in 2013. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2015/052.

Holt, K., Ackerman, B., Flemming, R., Forrest, R.E., Kronlund, A.R., Lacko, L., Olsen, N., Rutherford, K., Stanley, R.D., Taylor, N.G., Workman, G.. 2012.Ecological risk assessment for the effects of fishing: A pilot study for British Columbia groundfish fisheries. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2990, vii + 187 pp.

Stewart, I.J., Forrest, R.E., Taylor, N.J., Grandin, C., Hicks, A.C. 2012. Status of the Pacific hake (whiting) stock in U.S. and Canadian waters in 2012. NOAA Stock Assessments

Stewart, I.J., Forrest, R.E., Grandin, C., Hamel, O.S., Hicks, A.C., Martell, S.J.D., and Taylor, I.G.. 2011.Status of the Pacific hake (whiting) stock in U.S. and Canadian waters in 2011. Final SAFE document. 17 March 2011. NOAA Stock Assessments

Savina, M., Fulton, E., Condie, S., Forrest, R., Scandol, J., Astles, K., Gibbs, P.. 2009.Ecologically sustainable development of the regional marine and estuarine resources of NSW: Modelling of the NSW continental shelf ecosystem.. CSIRO and NSW DPI Reports, 63+vi pp

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