Independent fisheries’ beam trawl
surveys using research vessels were established in the 1980s by countries
bordering the North Sea to monitor stocks of plaice and sole. Collation and analysis of some of the data
derived from these surveys was undertaken by the Beam Trawl Study Group, which
in 1998 was re-established as the Working Group on Beam Trawl Surveys. 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.
WGBEAM comprises regular participants
from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and the UK. In total,
nine offshore surveys are carried out. The surveys covered by WGBEAM all 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. However, WGBEAM attempts to increase standardization in sampling by
staff exchange during the surveys and by publishing both an offshore and
inshore manual, describing best practices by each country and all of the
standardized sampling protocols that are carried out.
The group has experience
in multi-disciplinary sampling and other sampling of additional ecosystem
ICES WGBEAM members in Leuven, Belgium.