International Bottom Trawl Survey Working Group (IBTSWG)

The International Bottom Trawl Survey Working Group (IBTSWG) coordinate fishery-independ-ent bottom trawl surveys in the ICES Area (Northeast Atlantic and North Sea) providing an im-portant platform for the collection of additional data such as sampling larval sprat, stomach con-tents and fish parasites. These long-term monitoring surveys provide data for stock assessments and facilitate analyses of the distributions and relative abundance of fish. IBTSWG promotes the standardization of fishing gears and methods. This report summarizes national contributions in 2022–2023 and plans for the 2023–2024 surveys.
In the North Sea, the surveys are performed in Quarter 1 and Q3. The Northeast Atlantic surveys are conducted mostly in Q1, Q3, and Q4 with a suite of 14 national surveys covering large areas of continental shelf extending from northern Scotland to the Gulf of Cádiz.
The 2023-Q1 North Sea IBTS was impacted slightly by mechanical issues on one vessel, resulting in some of the Rectangles in the central North Sea being sampled with a single haul instead of the planned two. The 2022-Q3 North Sea IBTS was broadly complete, with the overall number of hauls comparable to previous years, though some Rectangles close to shore or with obstruc-tions may not have had full coverage.
The Northeast Atlantic surveys were mostly completed successfully, with the exception of the Scottish west coast groundfish survey in Q1 (cancelled due to vessel breakdown). There was incomplete survey coverage for some of the surveys, including the EVHOE survey (severe weather) and Portuguese groundfish survey (severe weather and mechanical problems). The Spanish surveys in the Gulf of Cádiz (cancelled in 2021) were undertaken in 2022.
Recent updates to DATRAS, where the trawl survey data are stored, were summarised and data quality, including catch weights and species identification, was reviewed.
IBTSWG met with members of various data users, including relevant stock assessment groups, such as WGNSSK, WGEF and HAWG, presenting summaries of relevant surveys.
A proposed new survey trawl, following on from earlier workshops and intersessional discus-sions, was reviewed. Several nations have conducted, or are planning, gear trials. Pending fine tuning required for the gear, the main aspects of the new trawl have been agreed. IBTSWG plan to hold an intersessional meeting to discuss implementation and to ensure communication and involvement of relevant experts on survey design and survey indices.

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ICES (2023). International Bottom Trawl Survey Working Group (IBTSWG). ICES Scientific Reports/Rapports scientifiques du CIEM. 5 (80). 204pp..,

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