From 29 May to 2 June 2017 the ‘Working Group on Spatial Fisheries Data’ (WGSFD) of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) meets at the Institute of Sea Fisheries.
In this working group scientists analyse spatial fisheries data in order to evaluate fishing effort, intensity, and frequency in European waters. Spatial fisheries data are essential to understanding interactions between fisheries and the ecosystem. Further, they are needed to evaluate the effects of spatial management measures like the establishment of wind farms and nature conservation areas on the fishing industry. They thus have become a key issue in European maritime policies. In order to describe the spatial and temporal distribution of fishing activities the group falls back on VMS and logbook data provided by ICES member states. So far, a high amount of effort has been made in data compilation, quality control and harmonization. The analytical techniques are regularly reviewed and adjusted to meet criteria set up by other ICES expert groups, to fulfil policy requirements and anticipate future scientific questions.
The current focus of the WGSFD is not to provide only estimates of spatial distribution of fishing effort, but to develop further methods and indices, for example those representing fishing intensity and frequency on different spatial scales.