Benchmarking sandeel

From 2021–2023, a benchmark workshop was conducted to agree the assessment methodology to be used in future assessments of sandeel in the northern, central, and southern North Sea, Dogger Bank, and Skagerrak (sandeel areas 1–4).
Published: 29 February 2024

​​​A benchmark workshop evaluates current data and assessment methodology for a fish stock and proposed improvements outside of the annual assessment environment.

The goal of a benchmark is consensus agreement on an assessment methodology that is to be used in future update assessments. The result will be the ‘best available’ method that ICES advice can be based on. Experts and stakeholders from outside ICES community are included to broaden the idea and data pool, improve assessment quality and enhance credibility.

The sandeel benchmark, WKSANDEEL, had a strong focus on investigating spatial stock boundaries in the North Sea, considering findings from tagging, otolith-microchemistry, drift modelling and genetics research, but found the current area delineation based on management considerations to be most appropriate for advice purposes.

Nicola Walker, Cefas and co-chair of WKSANDEEL said, "Although the area delineation remains the same, improvements were made to catch data preparation, survey data standardization, biological parameters and the modelling of these data in the assessments, as well as the re-estimation of refence points, to ensure more robust management".

Read more about the benchmark process in the report from WKSANDEEL and find our latest advice on sandeel fishing opportunities in our library.

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​​Sandeel. Image: Keith Mutch, Marine Scotland.

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Benchmarking sandeel

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