Report of the Planning Group on Commercial Catches, Discards and Biological Sampling (PGCCDBS) 2011

The Planning Group on Commercial Catches, Discards and Biological Sampling [PGCCDBS] (Co-Chairs: Christoph Stransky, Germany, and Kjell Nedreaas, Norway) met in Vienna, Austria, 7-11 February 2011. The Planning Group and workshops are proposed in response to the EC-ICES Memorandum of Understanding that requests ICES to provide support for the Data Collection Framework (DCF; EC Reg. 199/2008 and 665/2008, Decisions 2008/949/EC and 2010/93/EU). PGCCDBS is the ICES forum for planning and co-ordination of collection of data for stock assessment purposes; it coordinates and initiates the development of methods and adopts sampling standards and guidelines. Many activities in this group are closely linked to the activities of the DCF, and DG MARE of the European Commission is a member of PGCCDBS to ensure coordination with the DCF activities. Stock assessment requires data covering the total removal from the fish stocks and the PG serves as a forum for coordination with non-EU member countries where appropriate. Since 2007, Mediterranean scientists have organised a Mediterranean Planning Group for Methodological Development (PGMED) to deal with specific sampling issues of this area. Although organised in an autonomous group, it was agreed among all scientists that the contact and cooperation between the Mediterranean area the ICES area should be promoted and maintained. The link between the two planning groups is maintained through: (i) the organisation of parallel meetings; (ii) the organisation of joint plenary sessions for generic issues, and (iii) the organisation of joint workshops. Last year's recommendations and intersession work were reviewed. Most of them were concluded with success and those not concluded gave rise to developments carried out during this year. The intersession work was related to developing a strategy for the analysis of between- reader variation of ageing and maturity staging, the further development of a forum for age readers, the review of relevant conferences and self-sampling programmes, as well as creating an overview page on past age-reading workshops and exchanges. The Group reviewed reports from relevant Expert Groups with respect to recommendations addressed to PGCCDBS. As feedback mechanism from data users (mainly assessment WGs and benchmark assessment WKs) to the PG, 'data contact persons' have been nominated with a set of tasks to report on data problems and function as link between data collectors and data users. PGCCDBS acts as an advisory group on the further development of InterCatch. Recent changes in data collection (e.g. through the revised EU DCF) were reviewed and the need for workshops was defined. PGCCDBS was requested by WGCHAIRS 2011 to develop some templates for reporting on quality of input data for stock assessments. Suggested formats for documenting international sampling coverage and intensity are given in the report. In order for ICES to demonstrate that fishery management advice is based on the best available, quality-assured and peer-reviewed data according to the QAF, the PGCCDBS recommends a complete revision of the way in which AWGs manage their data compilation and evaluation. The Group found it important to build a strong bridge between data collection and processed data sets and parameter estimates used in stock assessments, and suggest the establishment of Data workshops to facilitate this. PGCCDBS stresses that initiatives should be taken in order to make sure that all countries give access to VMS and logbook data. PGCCDBS also suggest establishing a forum, participated by field sampling staff and IT-developers, engineers, in which new ideas and new techniques can be discussed and suggested. Workshops have become an important tool to deal with tasks required by the PG. At the moment, there are two types of workshops: methodological workshops that deal with general methods of applications to all areas/species/fisheries; and calibration workshops that include age reading and maturity staging and deal with promoting agreement among scientists classifying otoliths and gonads of specific species or groups of species. All workshops are carried out as official ICES workshops and the reports stored on the PGCCDBS documents repository: The results of the several workshops on methodology, maturity staging and age reading were presented and discussed. In general, there was a good acceptance of the work done so far although several issues were identified that require improvements. The methodological workshops WKACCU, WKPRECISE and WKMERGE previously initiated by PGCCDBS have provided valuable general knowledge in how catch sampling programs can be designed and the reports are beneficial for countries aiming to improve on current programs by reducing or eliminating sources of bias, and improve the cost-efficiency. PGCCDBS further stresses the need to establish a methodological support system for designing and analyses of catch sampling programs, and suggests that a series of workshops on practical implementation of national and regional catch sampling programs be set up. The goal is to include case-studies in WKPICS1 and WGPICS2 that together with the findings from the prior workshops will form the basis for a reference book on survey sampling methods applied to catch-sampling programs, as this is missing at the present time. The main aim with the series of workshops would be to provide countries with enough support to design and implement scientifically sound and transparent sampling programs enabling quality assessment of estimates used for stock assessment. Guidelines for organizing otolith exchanges, workshops on age calibration and on maturity staging were updated and will ensure that the key issues are addressed in a consistent manner. Based on the reviewed information, a set of small otolith exchanges (brill, black-spot sea bream, mullets, sprat, Spanish mackerel, sea bass, Bay of Biscay sole, redfish, hake) and full otolith exchanges (anglerfish, turbot, roundnose grenadier) are planned for 2011-2013. Furthermore, methodological workshops (catch sampling), age reading workshops (deepwater species) and maturity workshops (gadoids; turbot & brill; sole, plaice, dab and flounder) were proposed for 2012-2013. Furthermore, a workshop for national age reader coordinators will be held in 2011 and a workshop for maturity workshop chairs is recommended for 2012. The report also contains a full and updated list of national age readers and coordinators.
How to cite
(2011). Report of the Planning Group on Commercial Catches, Discards and Biological Sampling (PGCCDBS) 2011. Ref. ICES CM 2011/ACOM:40.

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