Monitoring programme: Biodiversity - Fish
Programme topic: ​Fish, shellfish and fisheries

Sub-programme: Offshore FISH

 

​table of contentS

Regional coordination

Purpose of monitoring

Monitoring concepts table

Assessment requirements

Data providers and access

References


regional Coordination

The monitoring of this sub-programme is: fully coordinated.


Purpose of monitoring (q4K)

Follow up of progress towards:

Baltic Sea Action Plan​ (BSAP)​ ​ ​ ​Segments ​Biodiversity
​Ecological objectives ​​Thriving and balanced communities of plants and animals
Viable populations of species
Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD) ​ ​ ​Descriptors ​​D1 Biodiversity
D3 Commercial fish and shellfish
D4 Food webs
​Criteria (Q5a)
​1.1 Species distribution
​1.2 Population size
1.3 Population condition
3.1 Level of pressure of the fishing activity
3.2 Reproductive capacity of the stock
3.3 Population age and size distribution
4.1 Productivity (production per unit biomass) of key species or trophic groups
4.2 Proportion of selected species at the top of food webs
4.3 Abundance/distribution of key trophic groups/species
​Features (Q5c)

Biological features:
Information on the structure of fish populations, including the abundance, distribution and age/size structure of the populations.

​Activities (Q7a, 7b)

​Extraction of living resources: Fisheries

Other relevant legislation (Q8a)
Common Fisheries Policy (CFP - DCF)


 


 

Assessment of: (Q4k)
State/Impacts ​​X temporal trends,
spatial distribution,

status classification
Pressures
Human activities
causing the pressures
X
Effectiveness of measures

Scale of data aggregation for assessments: (Q10a)
HELCOM assessment unit Level 1: Baltic Sea X
​HELCOM assessment unit Level 2: Subbasin
HELCOM assessment unit Level 3: Subbasins with coastal and offshore division​
HELCOM assessment unit Level 4: Subbasins with coastal WFD division

Other


Monitoring concepts table

Coordination Elements
Q9a (Q5c)
Parameter
Q9a (Q5c)
Method
Q9c, Q9d
QA/QC
Q9e, 9f
Frequency
Q9h, 9i
Spatial resolution
Q9g, 9i
Link to HELCOM core indicators Link to
MSFD GES characteristics

Q5b 
Spatial scope
Q4i
Monitoring started
Q4h
CPs monitoring
Regional (ICES)

Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Diet

Baltic International trawl survey - Q1 (see WGBIFS and WGBFAS) and HELCOM COMBINE manual
Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community (includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1.

EEZ 1992
(SE 1988)
All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Diet

Baltic International trawl survey – Q4 (see WGBIFS and WGBFAS) and HELCOM COMBINE manual
Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community (includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1992 All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology in water column

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Migration patterns

Baltic International Acoustic Survey Other Yearly Stratified acoustic transects Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1991 All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology in water column

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Migration patterns

Baltic International Spring Acoustic Survey Other Yearly Stratified acoustic transects Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters​)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 2001 All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology in water column

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Migration patterns

ICES coordinated acoustic survey for herring Other Yearly Stratified acoustic transects Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1991 All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Diet

International Bottom Trawl Survey – Q1 Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1983
(SE 1972)
DK, SE, SE
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Diet

International Bottom Trawl Survey (see WGBIFS and WGBFAS) – Q3 Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1991
(SE 1972)
DK, SE, SE
Regional (ICES) Herring larvae abundance

Life history stage (e.g. egg, juvenile, adult)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Population size (abundance)

Reproduction rate

N20 larval survey, Greifswalder Botten Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1977  DE
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Diet

Havfisken – Q1 Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1.
Territorial waters 1996 DK
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Diet

Havfisken – Q4 Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. Territorial waters 1994 DK
Regional (ICES) Fish abundance & biology

Population size (abundance)

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Species distributional range/pattern

Die

Solea – Q4 Other Yearly Stratified fixed station grid Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. Territorial waters 1992 DE
Regional (ICES) Commercial monitoring of catch

Composition and number of retained/landed catch

Composition and number of discards

Age at maturity

Size of individuals (length or weight)

RDB- BALTIC Other

Monthly or quarterly

Sampling metiers of the fishing fleet
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ 1970s All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) VMS of fishing fleet

Disturbance rates by human activities

Mortality/damage rates to species from a pressure

ICES/HELCOM data call Other Monthly Sampling metiers of the fishing fleet Cumulative impact on benthic biotopes (pre-core) 3.1.1 Level of pressure of the fishing activity - Fishing mortality (F)
EEZ 2009 All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Population dynamics  cod, herring, sprat

Population size (biomass)

Mortality rate

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Reproduction rate

Stock assessment Other Yearly Fish stock time series Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ Varies by stock - approx. 1970 All HELCOM Contracting Parties
Regional (ICES) Population dynamics  plaice, flounder, dab, brill, turbot

Population size (biomass)

Mortality rate

Size of individuals (length or weight)

Reproduction rate

Stock assessment (data limited) Other Yearly Fish stock time series Proportion of large fish in the community
(includes population size and individual size parameters​)
1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 3.2.1, 3.3.1, 3.3.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.3.1. EEZ Varies by stock – approx. 2001 All HELCOM Contracting Parties


 

Brief description of monitoring

Detailed information on monitoring frequency and spatial resolution has not yet been collected from all countries but will be added.


​Element / parameter
Demersal fish communities/Abundance, distribution, size, age, maturity, sex ratios
​Method

​The trawl surveys monitor the demersal fish community and some of the benthos. They are used to estimate the distribution and abundance of fish, the size and age of fish, the maturity and sex ratios. The sampling effort is standardised to provide input to stock assessments.

The surveys are carried out by research vessels with fixed station or transect design. The monitoring of catches usually takes place at ports or in laboratories. Samples of the catch are sampled using a range of protocols which have all been documented by ICES PGCCDBS. The stock assessment methods are documented in stock annexes for each stock and the approach is determined by an internationally peer reviewed benchmark process.

Bottom trawl surveys are not carried out north of Gotland-Hiiumaa line.

QA/QC ​ICES ensures the quality assurance for the sampling methods through the use of protocols, technical blind exchanges, workshops, international peer review and stakeholder engagement in some of the processes.
Frequency

Almost all information collected gives input into the annual fisheries quota considerations. To ensure standardization, the surveys occur at the same time of year and are dependent on the life cycle of the fish and fish migrations. 

Spatial Scope

​The spatial scope varies and is dependent of the targeted fish stocks. Many surveys overlap and some, such as the herring larvae survey, are very specific to a particular site and season.

Spatial resolution Surveys and monitoring of the catches offer the finest resolution, but these data integrate more observation noise into the time series. The stock assessments are considered more robust in terms of observation noise, but provide the coarsest time series in terms of spatial resolution.


 

​Element / parameter
Pelagic fish communities/Abundance, distribution, size, age, maturity, sex ratios
​Method

The acoustic surveys monitor the community in the water column. They are used to estimate the distribution and abundance of fish, the size and age of fish, the maturity and sex ratios. The sampling effort is standardized to provide input to stock assessments.

The surveys are carried out by research vessels with fixed station or transect design. Methods should follow ICES survey protocols. The monitoring of catches usually takes place at ports or in laboratories. Samples of the catch are sampled using a range of protocols that have all been documented by ICES PGCCDBS. The stock assessment methods are documented in stock annexes for each stock and the approach is determined by an internationally peer reviewed benchmark process.

QA/QC ​ICES ensures the quality assurance for the sampling methods through the use of protocols, technical blind exchanges, workshops, international peer review and stakeholder engagement in some of the processes.
Frequency

Almost all information collected provides input to the annual fisheries quota considerations. To ensure standardisation, the surveys occur at the same time of year and are dependent on the life cycle of the fish and the fish migrations. 

Spatial Scope

​The spatial scope varies and is dependent of the targeted fish stocks. Many surveys overlap, some, such as the herring larvae survey, are very specific to a particular site and season.

Spatial resolution Surveys and monitoring of the catches offer the finest resolution, but integrate more observation noise into the time series. The stock assessments are considered more robust in terms of observation noise, but provide the coarsest time series in terms of spatial resolution.


 
 

​Element / parameter
Fish Larvae
​Method

The surveys of larvae specifically monitor the abundance and size of the larvae.

QA/QC ​ICES ensures the quality assurance for the sampling methods through the use of protocols, technical blind exchanges, workshops, international peer review and stakeholder engagement in some of the processes.
Frequency

Almost all information collected gives input into the annual fisheries quota considerations. To ensure standardization, the surveys occur at the same time of year dependent on the life cycle of the fish and the fish migrations. 

Spatial Scope

​Pelagic is done through ICES, national do the demersal.

The spatial scope varies dependent of the targeted fish stocks. Many surveys overlap, some, such as the herring larvae survey, are very specific to a particular site and season.

Spatial resolution Surveys and monitoring of the catches offer the finest resolution, but these data integrate more observation noise into the time series. The stock assessments are considered more robust in terms of observation noise, but provide the coarsest time series in terms of spatial resolution.



 

Activity
Commercial catch monitoring
​Method

The commercial catch monitoring takes place across the whole Baltic Sea and monitors the size, age and maturity status of caught fish. Sampling is distributed representatively across fleet metiers (segments). The monitoring of catches usually takes place at ports or in laboratories. Samples of the catch are sampled using a range of protocols which have all been documented by ICES PGCCDBS. The stock assessment methods are documented in stock annexes for each stock and the approach is determined by an internationally peer reviewed benchmark process.

QA/QC ​ICES ensures the quality assurance for the sampling methods through the use of protocols, technical blind exchanges, workshops, international peer review and stakeholder engagement in some of the processes.
Frequency

Almost all information collected gives input into the annual fisheries quota considerations. To ensure standardization, the surveys occur at the same time of year dependent on the life cycle of the fish and the fish migrations. The monitoring of landings is monthly and usually raised to quarters to provide an overview of annual age/length composition.

Spatial Scope

​The spatial scope varies dependent of the targeted fish stocks. Many surveys overlap, some, such as the herring larvae survey, are very specific to a particular site and season.

Spatial resolution Surveys and monitoring of the catches offer the finest resolution, but integrate more observation noise into the time series. The stock assessments are considered more robust in terms of observation noise, but provide the coarsest time series in terms of spatial resolution.


 

Activity
VMS-data
​Method

The VMS time series provides information on fishing fleet activity and distribution.

QA/QC ​ICES ensures the quality assurance for the sampling methods through the use of protocols, technical blind exchanges, workshops, international peer review and stakeholder engagement in some of the processes.
Frequency

Continually (the data are collected every two hours by actual location)

Spatial Scope

Sampling metiers of the fishing fleet

Spatial resolution 0.05 x 0.05 aggregated grid within the EEZ



 

assessmenT REQUIREMENTS

Monitoring requirements and gaps

Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. The requirements on monitoring can include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.

Monitoring
requirements

​There are annual Baltic wide (EEZ) ICES coordinated surveys taking place for offshore fish that support data collection for CFP (DCF). For territorial waters Member States carry out national surveys.

The trawl surveys (Baltic International trawl survey/ International bottom trawl survey) monitor the demersal fish community and some of the benthos. It is used to estimate the distribution and abundance of fish, the size and age of fish, the maturity and sex ratios. The sampling effort is standardized to provide input into stock assessments.

The acoustic surveys monitor the community in the water column. It is used to estimate the distribution and abundance of fish, the size and age of fish, the maturity and sex ratios. The sampling effort is standardised to provide input to stock assessments.

The surveys of larvae specifically monitor the abundance and size of the larvae.

The commercial catch monitoring takes place across the Baltic and monitors the size, age and maturity status of caught fish. Sampling is distributed representatively across fleet metiers (segments).

The VMS time series provides information on fishing fleet activity and distribution.

The stock assessments should be seen as a synthesis of monitoring information to inform on the trends in population size and productivity and the exploitation impact. These assessments are used to inform decision makers for setting TACs and quotas. WGBFAS meets annually to assess the state of Baltic stocks. For stocks with sufficient data this leads to a forecast of catch options in the next year, while with data limited stocks, other approaches will be used, such as an analysis of trends in abundance estimates or catches.

The 14 fish stocks presently covered by the working group are:

  • 3 cod stocks (Kattegat, western, and eastern Baltic)

  • 3 herring stocks (SD25-32, SD30, and SD31)

  • 2 plaice stocks (SD21-23 and SD24-32)

  • Sprat stock (SD22-32)

  • Sole stock in 21-32

  • 4 flounders stocks (SD22-23, SD 24-25, SD26 and 28, and SD 27nad 29-32)

  • brill stock (SD22-32)

  • dab stock (SD22-32)

  • turbot stock (SD22-32

​Gaps ​​The Large fish indicator (LFI) for the Baltic Sea has been developed for both the pelagic and the demersal community, but as with all LFIs it is developed using trawl survey information only. The trawl survey of the Baltic Sea covers the area inhabited by cod (the southern and western Baltic) as the survey is used to create indices for commercial demersal fish and all fish species are measured. The acoustic survey of the Baltic covers a greater area. However, there are no methods for combining trawl surveys and acoustic surveys to determine an LFI index for the entire fish community or Maximum Mean Length (MML).  Also, the spatial distribution of commercial catches needs to be better quantified.

At present there is no central database for acoustic surveys (both for trawl information and acoustic signals). ICES is developing a database to hold this information.


 


Adequacy for assessment of GES (Q5d)

Monitoring should provide adequate data and information  to enable the periodic assessment of environmental status, and distance from and progress towards GES as required by MSFD under Article 9 and 11.

​Adequate data?​
Yes for D3. No for D1 and D4.
Established methods for assessment?
Yes for D3. No for D1 and D4.
​Adequate understanding of GES?
Yes for D3. No for D1 and D4.
Adequate capacity to perform assessments?
Yes for D3. No for D1 and D4.


 


Assessment of natural variability (Q5e)

Quantitative and Expert opinion. The programme (ICES advices EU through a Memorandum of Understanding) uses internationally accepted methods for monitoring and assessing fish stocks. These focus on the population dynamics of individual fish stocks and the pressure of fishing. The weakness in this approach is that the methods are not so well developed for considering D1, D3 and D4.


 

Data providers and access

​Data access point
​ICES databases (DATRAS, ichthyoplankton, BALTIC RDB, secure VMS database, ICES standard graphs).
Data type (Q10c)
Unprocessed/raw Data
Processed Data sets
Data Products
Modelled data
Data availability (Q10c)​
DATRAS
ICES Datasets
ICES Data Portal: HELCOM
​Data access (Q10c)
Open access for survey and stock assessment time series (covered by ICES data policy)

Restricted by specific licence licence for monitoring of commercial catches and the VMS data (excluded from ICES data policy and covered by DCF). Data only available for agreed specific tasks and agreement of national data collection bodies is required to access and use the data.​
​INSPIRE standard (Q10c)
Species distribution
When will data become available? (Q10c)
Data are available annually at different times for different surveys
Data update frequency (Q10c)
​Yearly
Describe how the data and information from the programme will be made accessible to the EC/EEA

The data are available through the ICES data centre with the data access limitations as described above

​​Contact points in the Contracting parties

Contact point to national monitoring programmes will be added.

​Has the data been used in HELCOM assessments?
​Yes


 

REFERENCES

Baltic International Fish Survey Working Group (WGBIFS)

Baltic Fisheries Assessment Working Group (WGBFAS)

Herring assessment working group (HAWG)

International Bottom Trawl Survey Working Group (IBTSWG)

Planning Group on Commercial Catches, Discards and Bio-logical Sampling (PGCCDBS)

Report of the Regional Co-ordination Meeting for the Baltic (RCM Baltic) 2013

Stock assessment output data

Working Group of International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS)