The ICES Working Group on Recreational Fisheries Surveys (WGRFS) role is to sum-marise and quality assure recreational fishery data collected in European countries, and provide advice for ICES on recreational fishing issues. In 2018, 49 scientists from 21 countries met from 11–15 June in Faro Portugal to: share and evaluate current na-tional surveys; assess the validity of new survey designs; assess the use of survey data in stock assessment and the impact of catch and release; review European and regional coordination; assess data storage options; assess novel survey methods; and investi-gate the potential for research on human dimensions.
Over the past year, the WGRFS group has increased in size and geographical coverage, with broader representation from academics. It provides a useful network for individ-uals developing surveys to test their ideas and designs that will increase the quality of data delivered. Significant effort has been put into ensuring that marine recreational fisheries are embedded within new legislation and that the value and impacts are rec-ognised by policy-makers, including provision of training for DGMARE. A European Parliament funded study on marine recreational fisheries was delivered by members of the WGRFS and comments were provided on the development of a position state-ment by the PECH committee. In addition, WGRFS has engaged with the RCGs, providing input into meetings and support for issues around recreational. Marine rec-reational fisheries are also included in three regional cooperation implementation pro-jects funded by DGMARE covering the Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas. The profile of the group has been raised through presentation of science at conferences and the publication of a synthesis of Europe marine recreational fisheries and post-release mortality of sea bass. Novel approaches have been developed for estimation of recreational catches for inclusion in stock assessments, most notably for sea bass.
At the 2018 meeting, further progress was made in key areas. Updates were provided on national sampling programmes, with surveys underway in all countries, except for most of the Balkan Peninsula, and the most recent estimates collated. The design and implementation phase of the Portuguese, Italian and Greek programmes were assessed using the WGRFS quality assurance tool and were acceptable. The use of recreational data in stock assessment for Baltic salmon and sea trout, sea bass, and western Baltic cod were discussed. The need for novel approaches for inclusion of recreational data in stock assessment for a broader range of stocks were highlighted. Approaches for European and regional coordination of data collection were discussed, and outcomes of the regional cooperation projects should be reviewed by WGRFS. Issues were high-lighted with current storage of data and a proposal made for the inclusion of recrea-tional data in the ICES regional databases. Novel methods for data collection were showcased and need to be reviewed regularly as the landscape is changing very quickly.
Intersessional work was agreed on: inclusion of data in the ICES regional database; methods for analysis and inclusion of data in stock assessments; updating the quality assessment tool; novel approaches for data collection; and the human dimensions. The WGRFS recommendations were: to include recreational fisheries in more stock assess-ment; to collate recreational catches in the ICES regional database for 2019 reporting; further work on the impacts of catch and release should be funded; and a workshop to develop inclusion of human dimensions research is needed.