Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS)
The Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) coordinates, implements, and reports on acoustic surveys for pelagic fish species. The core objectives of the Expert Group are to combine and review results of annual pelagic ecosystem surveys to provide indices for the stocks of herring, sprat, mackerel, boarfish, and blue whiting in the Northeast Atlantic, Norwegian Sea, North Sea, and Western Baltic; and to coordinate timing, coverage and methodologies for the upcoming 2020 surveys.
WGIPS 2020 discussed the results from two workshops held in 2019; WKSCRUT2 (Workshop on Scrutinizing of Acoustic data from the International Ecosystem Summer Survey in Nordic Seas (IESSNS)) and WKHASS (Workshop on Herring Acoustic Spawning Surveys). Procedures agreed at WKSCRUT2 were accepted at WGIPS and individual participant surveys will incorporate these to ensure harmony in echogram scrutiny across the relevant surveys in the IESSNS. WKHASS looked at three herring industry acoustic surveys (conducted in 6aN, 6aS/7b, c and 7a) and decided that while each survey gives robust estimates of abundance, there is still improvements needed in survey design and protocols for each. It was recommended that the 7a survey in the Irish Sea is included in the SISP 9 Manual for International Pelagic Surveys, ICES Acoustic Surveys database should host data from the spawning surveys, and that estimations should be compared with standard StoX (open source software for survey analyses) methods.
The group agreed that scrutinisation procedures, including the use of biological samples, need to be scientifically reviewed periodically for all acoustic surveys covered by WGIPS. A set of technical procedures also need to be agreed for each survey and kept updated in the SISP 9 manual.
A day session with presentations was held at WGIPS in 2020 to assess auxiliary pelagic ecosystem surveying techniques currently used on surveys coordinated by WGIPS.
WGIPS held a subgroup meeting of International Blue Whiting Spawning Survey (IBWSS) participants to discuss scrutiny procedures and reporting of mesopelagics from surveys, in response to a recommendation from the Workshop on Developing Mesopelagic Methods (WKMESOMeth). Participants agreed to begin providing acoustic data and to develop biological sampling capacity over time within existing constraints. Outcomes will be reviewed by WGIPS in 2021. WGIPS also held a subgroup to discuss the recommendation from the Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) to undertake a feasibility study to extend the swept area survey for mackerel in the summer, south of 60°N. To progress this complex request WGIPS responded to WGWIDE by suggesting a workshop be initiated for 2021, to include participants from WGIPS, WGWIDE, and other experts.
It was agreed that using the StoX survey analysis software and the ICES database as common tools for all surveys coordinated within WGIPS will be encouraged.
All WGIPS surveys were completed as planned in 2019. Results and coordination plans for the 2020 individual and multinational pelagic acoustic surveys in Northeast Atlantic waters are presented in this report.
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