It is important to find a reliable method to estimate maximum sustainable yield (MSY) or total allowable catch (TAC) for fishery management, especially when the data availability is limited which is a case in China. A recently developed method (CMSY) is a data-poor method, which requires only catch data, resilience and exploitation history at the first and final years of the catch data. CMSY was used in this study to estimate the biological reference points for Largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus, Temminck and Schlegel) in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea, based on the fishery data from China Fishery Statistical Year Books during 1986 to 2012. Additionally, Bayesian state-space Schaefer surplus production model (BSM) and the classical surplus production models (Schaefer and Fox) performed by software CEDA and ASPIC, were also projected in this study to compare with the performance of CMSY. The estimated MSYs from all models are about 19.7×104–27.0×104 t, while CMSY and BSM yielded more reasonable population parameter estimates (the intrinsic population growth rate and the carrying capacity). The biological reference points of B/BMSY smaller than 1.0, while F/FMSY higher than 1.0 revealed an over-exploitation of the fishery, indicating that more conservative management strategies are required for Largehead hairtail fishery.