Working Group on Southern Horse Mackerel, Anchovy, and Sardine



WGHANSAWGHANSATrueRosana OurensFRSGrosana.ourens@cefas.gov.uk272Working Group on Southern Horse Mackerel, Anchovy, and Sardine

ICES Working Group on Southern Horse Mackerel, Anchovy and Sardine (WGHANSA) is in charge of assessing the status of and providing short-term predictions for several populations of small pelagic fishes inhabiting the southwestern European waters.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​WGHANSA assesses the status of and provides predictions for the following ICES stocks: 


  • Anchovy in Subarea 8 (Bay of Biscay) and Division 9.a (Atlantic Iberian waters)
  • Sardine in divisions 8.c and 9.a (Cantabrian Sea and Atlantic Iberian waters), 8.abd (Bay of Biscay) and Subarea 7 (Southern Celtic Seas and the English Channel)
  • Horse mackerel in Division 9.a (Atlantic Iberian waters)
  • Blue jack mackerel in Subdivision 10.a.2 (Azores grounds)

Records on the fisheries of these pelagic species go back as far as the first half of the previous century (or even earlier) in the three countries. However, it is not until the fourth quarter of the century that ICES started to make assessments of the populations and fishery impacts. The oldest assessment is that of sardine around the Iberian Peninsula (in divisions 8.c and 9.a), which started in the mid-1980s. During the 1990s, analytical assessments of the anchovy in the Bay of Biscay were implemented, and during the current century the anchovy assessment in Division 9.a has begun to be developed. Although the assessment of both the southern and western stocks of horse mackerel started in the late eighties, it is not until 2005 that the current stock identity (restricted to Division 9.a) was established. Over recent years the assessment of blue jack mackerel in Division 10 (Azores) and of sardine in divisions 8.abd and Subarea 7 have been added to the group.  Advice for all these populations is requested by the European Commission.

WGHANSA's membership numbers around 20–25 people, including about 10–14 scientists from France, Portugal, Spain, and occasionally the UK. The group meets annually in June for the assessment. WGHANSA previously worked with the group for the assessment of mackerel and horse mackerel, but since 2008/2009 it has operated alone.

In addition to catches-at-age, the basic data input for the assessment of anchovy and sardine come from DEPM and Acoustic surveys, and for horse mackerel from Bottom Trawl surveys. DEPM and Acoustic surveys inputs are revised within ICES WGACEGG (the Working Group on Acoustic and Egg (DEPM) Surveys for Sardine and Anchovy in ICES areas 8 and 9).

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