WGEF was formed in 2002 from the Study Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (SGEF). The groups remit has been to:
WGEFs 30 members consist of professionals with a wide range of interests from different backgrounds as well as scientists who represent both state agencies and NGOs. Group members are experts in the fields of fisheries management, modelling, biology, tagging studies, deepwater fisheries, conservation, and taxonomy.
The original study group SGEF first met in 1989 and was re-established in 1995, meeting biennially. Assessments for elasmobranch species had proven very difficult because of the lack of data and the persistence of problems in misidentifying species. The 1999 meeting was held concurrently with an EC-funded Concerted Action Project meeting (FAIR CT98-4156), which allowed greater participation from various European institutes. Exploratory assessments were carried out for the first time in 2002, covering eight of the nine case study species considered by the EC-funded DELASS project (CT99-055). The success of this meeting was as a direct consequence of the DELASS project, a three-year collaborative effort involving fifteen fisheries research institutes and two subcontractors. Though much progress was made on methodology, there was still much work to be done, with the paucity of species-specific landings data a major data issue.
Advice is normally provided on a two year cycle. Assessments are carried out on stocks and fisheries from the Artic to the Azores. We collaborate with other Regional Fisheries Management Orgnizations (FMOs) such as the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) where stocks are wide-ranging and extend outside the ICES areas.