Spatial fisheries data are essential to understanding interactions between fisheries and the ecosystem and thus have become a key issue in European maritime policies. In order describe the spatial and temporal distribution of fishing activities – and simultaneously considering their characteristic ecological footprint – the group falls back on VMS and logbook data provided by ICES member states. So far, a high amount of effort has been made in data compilation, quality control and harmonization. The group defined standards for VMS and logbook data and provides advice for present and future data requirements as well as answering different requests such as those put forward by HELCOM and OSPAR. The analytical techniques are regularly reviewed and adjusted to meet criteria set up by other ICES expert groups, to fulfil policy requirements and anticipate future scientific questions.
The current focus of the WGSFD is not to provide only estimates of spatial distribution of fishing effort, but to develop further methods and indices, for example those representing fishing intensity and frequency on different spatial scales. This includes indicators supporting scientific advice regarding the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) or the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). In the future the group will continue fostering the development of new methodologies and build a forum to develop innovative concepts related to the investigation of interactions between fishing activities and the ecosystem.
The WGSFD is also closely related to other ICES expert groups through activities such as the provision of input for investigating the environmental impact of fishing activities.
output from WGSFD: surface abrasion pressure expressed as the swept
area ratio from VMS data from 2013 in part of the OSPAR region with most
caveats listed in the WGSFD 2015 report apply.