Working Group on Acoustic and Egg Surveys for Sardine and Anchovy in ICES areas 7, 8 and 9 (WGACEGG; outputs from 2019 meeting)

The Working Group on Acoustic and Egg Surveys (WGACEGG) coordinates pelagic surveys for a number of stocks and provides monitoring for the two major sardine and anchovy stocks in ICES areas 6, 7, 8, and 9. The group evaluated small pelagic fish biomass indices derived from acoustic and Daily Egg Production Method (DEPM) surveys in ICES areas 6, 7, 8 and 9. These indices have been provided to the ICES Working Group on Southern Horse Mackerel, Anchovy and Sardine (WGHANSA), the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) and the Herring Assessment Working Group for the Area South of 62ºN (HAWG) stock assessment group, to serve as fishery-independent input for analytical assessment purposes. DEPM and acoustic indices were derived based on data collected using independent methods. Acoustic- and DEPM-derived biomass indices from quasi-synoptic surveys conducted in the Bay of Biscay in spring were compared, to assess the presence of potential bias and to improve the precision of fish stock biomass estimates. The DEPM-based anchovy biomass index was 22% higher than the acoustic index in 2019. Unusual concentrations of anchovy in Eastern Cantabrian Sea, an area not covered by the acoustic survey, and the presence near the sea surface of actively spawning individuals possibly under-sampled by acoustics in central Bay of Bay had been postulated as potential causes of this discrepancy. No significant difference was found between sardine biomass indices derived from DEPM and acoustics in 2019. The group has updated its database of standard gridded maps covering the European Atlantic area. This initiative continues to inform on the spatial dynamics of various parameters collected during the surveys coordinated under the auspices of the group (fish acoustic densities, anchovy and sardine egg abundance, surface temperature and salinity). Results of an analysis of the time series of gridded maps (anchovy and sardine acoustic density, surface salinity and temperature) showed quantitative changes in the spatial and temporal distribution of anchovy and sardine over the last 15 years, and further define their habitats in European Atlantic waters in spring. The timing and spatial coverage of DEPM and acoustic surveys that will be conducted by group members in 2020 were planned to optimise the monitoring of anchovy and sardine populations and their pelagic environment in the European Atlantic area. The synoptic nature of the survey components has been assessed for each target species. A manual describing the protocols used during the DEPM surveys coordinated by the WGACEGG group was reviewed, and writing of a manual of WGACEGG acoustic surveys continued. Both manuals will be available in 2020. The final results of the 2017 sardine DEPM assessment were endorsed by the group.

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ICES (2020). Working Group on Acoustic and Egg Surveys for Sardine and Anchovy in ICES areas 7, 8 and 9 (WGACEGG; outputs from 2019 meeting). ICES Scientific Reports/Rapports scientifiques du CIEM. 2 (44). 490pp..,

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