Today, the area considered by WGACEGG encompasses the continental shelves from Gibraltar to the UK. Through standard processing, WGACEGG also provides a range of ecosystemic indicators and common regional data bases and maps.
The group met for the first time in 2005. Its objective was to coordinate and review acoustic and egg surveys in ICES Areas 7, 8 and 9, conducted by Portuguese, Spanish and French teams. The main aims were to coordinate pelagic surveys, to standardize surveys strategies and analysis procedures, and to provide a direct monitoring for the two major small pelagic stocks (sardine and anchovy) in this area.
This working group works both by correspondence and through an annual meeting. Traditionally the meeting is conducted in plenary sessions for reviewing surveys and data, and separate sessions when eggs or acoustic methods are concerned. WGACEGG has organized focused workshops on particular issues such as, scrutinizing echotraces, survey design with geo-statistics, and methods of egg production. After eight years of functioning, the methods of the group have progressed a lot, through standardization of survey strategies, intercalibrations and special operations to solve particular problems, by confrontation of results and by producing common regional maps from spring and autumn surveys.
Participation of new members from Ireland and U.K. provided additional information on the north of the previous area (Division 7) through their own surveys, permitting a shelf-wide approach of the pelagic ecosystem from U.K. to Gibraltar.
Since 2007, WGACEGG has met every two years in a joint meeting with MEDIAS which is a similar Mediterranean group to coordinate pelagic acoustic surveys and data analysis methods in the Mediterranean Sea. The objective of WGACEGG is aimed at a coordination of surveys, methods and processing of data in order to provide indices suitable for the DCF and ecosystemic indicators suitable for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). A common processing method was developed to produce an annual common data base and global maps with a series of parameters at the same spatial scale.