Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS)
The core objectives of The Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) 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 upcoming surveys. Results from all WGIPS surveys as well as coordination plans for multinational pelagic acoustic surveys and individual surveys were the primary focus at meetings over the past 3 years (2019-2021).
WGIPS discussed developments and experiences with the ICES database and the survey analysis software StoX. WGIPS recommends that all surveys use StoX as the primary method for biomass and abundance estimation, and this has been a welcome improvement in the overall working of the group for the surveys that use StoX. Harmonising procedures across surveys increases transparency and promotes understanding and sharing of survey methods within the group. In 2021, a session was held to begin the process of moving surveys onto the Transparent Assessment Framework (TAF). Some surveys had started the TAF process before the meeting and their progress was presented to the group. WGIPS will work with the ICES Data Centre to produce a workflow and/or documentation to assist with the transition to TAF.
Harmonising surveying techniques that measure other aspects of the marine ecosystem has been flagged as requiring attention. As such, the group annually assessed auxiliary pelagic ecosystem surveying techniques currently used on surveys coordinated by WGIPS. The discussions highlighted the range of additional work being undertaken across the group.
WGIPS has continued to respond to requests from other ICES expert groups and contribute to workshops. In 2021, WGIPS held a subgroup made up of IBWSS participants (NO, FO, NL, IE, ES) to discuss the formulation of scrutiny procedures to harmonise the reporting of mesopelagic acoustic density during future surveys. This was in response to a recommendation from WKMESOMeth. The IBWSS survey participants have agreed to begin the process of providing acoustic data within the agreed criteria and aim to develop biological sampling capacity over time within existing constraints. A review exercise will be conducted during the 2022 WGIPS meeting to review the data and findings of the 2021 survey and refine the protocol. WGIPS is also working on plans to update the Manual for International Pelagic Surveys.
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