WGRFS, an offshoot of the 2009 WKSMRF workshop which helped ICES European countries with the development of marine recreational fisheries sampling programmes, supplies recreational fishery data and estimates into the ICES stock assessment and advisory process, operating within the ICES Quality Assurance Framework and responding to the requirements of the EU Data Collection Framework (DCF) and other drivers. As such, the group is a forum for the planning and coordination of recreational fisheries data collection and analysis and for the sharing of knowledge and discussion of new ideas.
Worldwide, marine recreational fishing is a high-participation activity of large economic and social value. Alongside the commercial fishery, the marine recreational fishery plays an important role concerning the removal of biomass from fish stocks. For certain species marine recreational fishery catches can have a significant share of the total landings.
A major issue for recreational fishery surveys is the need to minimize potential sources of bias such as undercoverage of the recreational fishing population, nonresponse of individuals selected for sampling, and poor recall of fishing trips by respondents. WGRFS group members discuss and develop national surveys to obtain reliable, consistent and comparable catch and effort data of the marine recreational fishery. Next to the collection of biological data (harvests, releases, size/age structure) the group also highlights the importance of collecting data for evaluating the economic and social value of recreational sea fishing.
WGRFS builds extensively on experiences gained within and beyond the EU, and participants come from most European member states as well as Norway, USA, and Australia. Some 20-25 members and guests normally attend the group.
WGRFS strongly emphasizes the need to engage stakeholders during survey design and implementation. This is to establish easily–understood communications on survey methods and how data are used as well as to ensure that stakeholders do not feel left out of the recreational management process.