Working Group on Recreational Fisheries Surveys (WGRFS)
The role of the ICES Working Group on Recreational Fisheries Surveys (WGRFS) is to summarise and quality assure recreational fishery data collected in European countries and feed into the ICES advisory process on recreational fishing issues. In 2020, WGRFS met virtually to start work on the Terms of References (ToRs) for the period 2020–2022. The new ToRs cover many aspects of marine recreational fisheries (MRF) including the collation and review of national survey programmes; assessment of the validity of new approaches; provision of guidance on availability, quality and use of data; supporting regional data collection and storage; the human dimension; and review of workshops organized by the group. The focus of the 2020 meeting was on understanding new national surveys developing a delivery plan for 2020–2022. It was not possible to review the quality of national schemes due to the virtual nature and limited time available at the meeting.
The WGRFS covers a large range of topics requiring in-depth work meaning that there is not enough time to cover these topics thoroughly during the meeting. As a result, nine intersessional groups were established on governance, survey methods, quality assessment of surveys, regional coordination and data storage; catch and release and fish welfare; stock assessment and reconstruction; novel methods; human dimensions; and communications and engagement. These discussions were used to develop a publication strategy. Each group will be led by two members of the WGRFS and was discussed in detail at the meeting. This has been used to generate a summary of the background and goals for each group.
The European Commission (EC) funded a pilot project to develop control schemes for catches of important recreational species (e.g. sea bass). This aims to provide an assessment of the state of the art and develop innovative IT tools for the effective monitoring and control of MRF. The findings to date were discussed with the group. A practical integrated fishery information solution is needed, based on an integrated catch declaration scheme, along with the development of data standards and certification of eligible fisher apps. The pilot project will deliver the information system into which apps and websites will be able to be integrated by the process of certification. The use of this system to support data collection is being considered.
An online survey has been distributed in eight countries to obtain information on socio-ecological impacts of COVID-19 on MRF such as perceptions of ecological changes in marine ecosystems, economic impact derived from the loss of direct investments, and the impact on physical health and well-being of fishers. Response to the questionnaire has been good and, once complete, will be used to assess the impact of COVID-19, differences between countries, and support decision making for future disease outbreaks.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee