In total, nine offshore surveys are carried out. All surveys covered by the group have their own origins and were not set up as one survey. As such, no standardization of gears has taken place. The different countries all have their own sampling areas and, because the gears used vary, it is not possible to change sampling locations from one country to the other without any thorough scientific study beforehand. WGBEAM attempts to increase standardization in sampling by staff exchange during the surveys. It also does this through publishing both an offshore and inshore manual, describing best practices by each country and all of the standardized sampling protocols.
Although the initial focus of its efforts was in the North Sea and Eastern Channel, the group now evaluates all major surveys in ICES Subarea IV and VII. In addition, the group also evaluated a survey in the Bay of Biscay in 2009 and survey in the Adriatic in 2011.
The group has experience in multi-disciplinary sampling and other sampling of additional ecosystem parameters.