Recent Submissions

  • International Blue Whiting Spawning Stock Survey (IBWSS) Spring 2024

    Marine Institute; Wageningen Marine Research; Institute of Marine Research; Faroe Marine Research Institute; Danish Institute for Fisheries Research; Spanish Institute of Oceanography; Thünen Institute (Marine Institute, 2024)
    Coordination of the survey was initiated at the meeting of the Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) in January 2024 and continued by correspondence until the start of the survey. During the survey, effort was refined and adjusted by the survey coordinator (Norway) using real time observations.
  • Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 2023, 09 - 29 October, 2023

    O'Donnell, Ciaran; O’Malley, M.; Mullins, Eugene; Daly, Eoghan; Keogh, Niall; McBride, Lauren (Marine Institute, 2024)
    The primary objectives of this survey were: <br><br> *Carry out a two phase survey cruise track covering the core survey area <br><br> *Carry out additional adaptive surveys as required in areas of interest <br><br> *Collect biological samples from directed trawling on insonified fish echotraces <br><br> * Collect biological data on the age, length and maturity of herring and sprat <br><br> *Determine an age stratified estimate of relative abundance of herring within the survey area (ICES Divisions VIIj, VIIg and VIIaS) <br><br> *Determine an estimate of relative abundance of sprat, anchovy and sardine within the survey area (ICES Divisions VIIj, VIIg and VIIaS) <br><br> *Collect physical oceanography data from vertical profiles from a deployed sensor array <br><br> * Collect biological samples of sprat and herring for genetic analysis on stock origin studies. <br><br> * Visual surveys to determine the distribution and abundance of apex predators (marine mammals, tuna and seabirds)
  • FU19 Nephrops Grounds 2023 UWTV Survey Report and catch scenarios for 2024

    Doyle, Jennifer; Aristegui, M.; Ryan, Gráinne; Bentley, K.; Sullivan, Mairead; Opanowski, Artur; Sugrue, S.; Farrell, Ellen; Domingos, Marta; McCorriston, P.; et al. (Marine Institute, 2023)
    This report provides the main results of the fourteenth underwater television survey of the various Nephrops patches in Functional Unit 19. The survey was multi disciplinary in nature collecting UWTV and other ecosystem data. In 2023 a total 42 UWTV stations were successfully completed. The mean density estimates varied considerably across the different patches. The 2023 raised abundance estimate showed a 15% decrease from the 2022 estimate and at 220 million burrows is below the MSY Btrigger reference point (430 million). Using the 2023 estimate of abundance and updated stock data implies catch in 2024 that correspond to the F ranges in the EU multi annual plan for Western Waters are between 224 and 248 tonnes (assuming that discard rates and fishery selection patterns do not change from the average of 2020–2022). One species of sea pen was observed; Virgularia mirabilis which has been observed on previous surveys of FU19. Trawl marks were observed at 10% of the stations surveyed.
  • The “Smalls” Nephrops Grounds (FU22) 2023 UWTV Survey Report and catch scenarios for 2024

    Doyle, Jennifer; Bentley, K.; Sullivan, Mairead; Opanowski, Artur; Sugrue, S.; Farrell, Ellen; Domingos, Marta; Hehir, Imelda; Ryan, Gráinne; McCorriston, P. (Marine Institute, 2023)
    This report provides the main results and findings of the eighteenth annual underwater television survey on the ‘Smalls grounds’ ICES assessment area; Functional Unit 22. The survey was multi-disciplinary in nature collecting UWTV and other ecosystem data. A total of 41 UWTV stations were surveyed successfully (high quality image data), carried out over an isometric grid at 4.5nmi or 8.3km intervals. The precision, with a CV of < 7%, was well below the upper limit of 20% recommended by SGNEPS (ICES, 2012). The 2023 abundance estimate was 13% lower than in 2022 and at 776 million is below the MSY Btrigger reference point (990 million). Using the 2023 estimate of abundance and updated stock data implies catch in 2024 that correspond to the ICES MSY approach of 1912 tonnes, assuming that discard rates and fishery selection patterns do not change from the average of 2020 - 2022. One species of sea pen was recorded as present at the stations surveyed: Virgularia mirabilis. Trawl marks were observed at 37% of the stations surveyed.
  • The Labadie, Jones and Cockburn Banks Nephrops Grounds (FU2021) 2023 UWTV Survey Report and catch scenarios for 2024

    Doyle, Jennifer; Bentley, K.; Sullivan, Mairead; Opanowski, Artur; Sugrue, S.; Farrell, Ellen; Domingos, Marta; McCorriston, P. (Marine Institute, 2023)
    This report provides the main results of the 2023 underwater television survey on the ‘Labadie, Jones and Cockburn Banks’ ICES assessment area; Functional Unit 2021. The 2023 annual survey was multi-disciplinary in nature collecting UWTV and other ecosystem data. A total of 100 UWTV stations were completed at 6 nm intervals over a randomised isometric grid design. The 2023 mean burrow density was 0.104 burrows/m2 compared with 0.101 burrows/m2 in the year 2022. The 2023 geostatistical abundance estimate was 1026 million, a 0.6% decrease on the abundance from 2022, with a CV of 4%, which is well below the upper limit of 20% recommended by SGNEPS 2012. Low to medium densities were observed throughout the ground. Using the 2023 estimate of abundance and updated stock data implies catch in 2024 that correspond to the ICES MSY approach of 1865 tonnes assuming that discard rates and fishery selection patterns do not change from the average of 2020– 2022. Two species of sea-pen (Virgularia mirabilis and Pennatula phosphorea) were recorded as present at the stations surveyed. Trawl marks were observed at 20% of the stations surveyed.
  • Aran, Galway Bay and Slyne Head Nephrops Grounds (FU17) 2023 UWTV Survey Report and catch scenarios for 2024

    Aristegui, M.; Ryan, Gráinne; Fahy, James; Manning, Laurence; McCann, Neve; Woodcock, Kirsty; Course, Grant; Meireles de Castro, Rita; Murphy, Natasha; White, Jonathan; et al. (Marine Institute, 2023)
    This report provides the main results and findings of the 21st annual underwater television survey on the Aran, Galway Bay and Slyne head Nephrops grounds, ICES assessment area; Functional Unit 17. The survey was multi-disciplinary in nature collecting UWTV, CTD and other ecosystem data. In 2023 a total of 44 UWTV stations were successfully completed, 34 on the Aran Grounds, 5 on Galway Bay and 5 on Slyne Head patches. The mean burrow density observed in 2023, adjusted for edge effect, was medium at 0.29 burrows/m². The final krigged burrow abundance estimate for the Aran Grounds was 356 million burrows with a CV (Coefficient of Variance; relative standard error) of 3%. The final abundance estimate for Galway Bay was 15 million and for Slyne Head was 5 million, with CVs of 7% and 4% respectively. The total abundance estimates have fluctuated considerably over the time series. The 2023 combined abundance estimate (375 million burrows) is 13% higher than in 2021, and it is below MSY Btrigger (540 million burrows). Using the 2023 estimate of abundance and updated stock data imply that catches in 2024 should be no more than 454 tonnes, according to the EU MAP and ICES MSY approach and assuming that discard rates and fishery selection patterns do not change from the average of 2020–2022. Virgularia mirabilis was the only sea-pen species observed on the UWTV footage. Trawl marks were present at 5% of the Aran stations surveyed.
  • Porcupine Bank Nephrops Grounds (FU16) 2023 UWTV Survey Report and catch scenarios for 2024

    Aristegui, M.; Ryan, Gráinne; Fahy, James; Manning, Laurence; McCann, Neve; Woodcock, Kirsty; Course, Grant; Meireles de Castro, Rita; Murphy, Natasha (Marine Institute, 2023)
    This report provides the results of the eleventh underwater television on the ‘Porcupine Bank Nephrops grounds’ ICES assessment area; Functional Unit 16. The survey was multi disciplinary in nature collecting UWTV and other ecosystem data. In total 71 UWTV stations were successfully completed (100% of the planned stations) in a randomised 6 nautical mile isometric grid covering the full spatial extent of the stock. The mean burrow density observed in 2023, adjusted for edge effect, was 0.27 burrows/m². The final krigged abundance estimate was 2002 million burrows with a CV of 3% and an estimated stock area of 7,130 km2 . The 2023 abundance estimate was 47% higher than in 2022. Using the 2023 estimate of abundance and updated stock data imply that catches in 2024 should be between 3677 and 4560 tonnes, according to the EU MAP and ICES MSY approach (assuming that all catch is landed). Four species of sea-pen (Virgularia mirabilis, Funiculina quadrangularis, Pennatula phosphorea and the deepwater sea-pen Kophobelemnon stelliferum) were observed during the survey. Trawl marks were also observed on 20% of the stations surveyed.
  • Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS) 09 June –20 July, 20223. FSS Survey Series: 2023/03

    O'Donnell, Ciaran; O’Malley, Michael B.; Mullins, Eugene; Whitefield, Jamie (Marine Institute, 2023)
    The WESPAS survey program is the consolidation of two existing survey programs carried out by FEAS, the Malin Shelf herring acoustic survey, and the boarfish acoustic survey. The Malin Shelf herring acoustic survey has been carried out annually since 2008 and reports on the annual abundance of summer feeding aggregations of herring to the west of Scotland and to the north and west of Ireland from 53°30’N to 58°30’N. The boarfish survey was conducted from 2011 using a chartered fishing vessel and reported the abundance of spawning aggregations of boarfish from 47°N to 57°N. In 2016 both surveys were combined into the WESPAS survey and have been carried out on the RV Celtic Explorer over a 42-day period, providing synoptic coverage of shelf waters from 47°30’N northwards to 58°30’N. Age stratified relative stock abundance estimates of boarfish, herring and horse mackerel within the survey area were calculated using acoustic data and biological data from trawl sampling. Stock estimates of boarfish and horse mackerel were submitted to the ICES assessment Working Group for Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) meeting in August 2022. Herring estimates are submitted to the Herring Assessment Working Group (HAWG) meeting in March every year. Survey performance will be reviewed at the ICES Planning Group meeting for International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) meeting in January 2024.
  • TC22_02 INFOMAR Survey Report

    Sheehan, Kevin; INFOMAR Survey Team (Marine Institute, 2023-09)
    Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute (MI) conducted seabed mapping between 2003 and 2005 under the auspices of the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) and mapping continued from 2006 to present day under the INtegrated mapping FOr the sustainable development of Irelands MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme. INSS, which commenced in 1999 under the GSI was one of the largest marine mapping programmes ever undertaken globally, with a focus on deep water mapping. INFOMAR is a joint venture between the GSI and the MI and is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). INFOMAR Phase 1, 2006 to 2015 focused on mapping 26 priority bays and 3 priority areas around Ireland and creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in those areas. INFOMAR Phase 2, 2016 to 2026 intends to map the remainder of Ireland’s entire seabed.
  • TC22_01 INFOMAR Survey Report

    Sheehan, Kevin; INFOMAR Survey Team (Marine Institute, 2023-07)
    Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute (MI) conducted seabed mapping between 2003 and 2005 under the auspices of the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) and mapping continued from 2006 to present day under the INtegrated mapping FOr the sustainable development of Irelands MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme. INSS, which commenced in 1999 under the GSI was one of the largest marine mapping programmes ever undertaken globally, with a focus on deep water mapping. INFOMAR is a joint venture between the GSI and the MI and is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). INFOMAR Phase 1, 2006 to 2015 focused on mapping 26 priority bays and 3 priority areas around Ireland and creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in those areas. INFOMAR Phase 2, 2016 to 2026 intends to map the remainder of Ireland’s entire seabed.
  • CV22_03 INFOMAR Survey Report

    Sheehan, Kevin; INFOMAR Survey Team (Marine Institute, 2023-07)
    Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute (MI) conducted seabed mapping between 2003 and 2005 under the auspices of the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) and mapping continued from 2006 to present day under the INtegrated mapping FOr the sustainable development of Irelands MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme. INSS, which commenced in 1999 under the GSI was one of the largest marine mapping programmes ever undertaken globally, with a focus on deep water mapping. INFOMAR is a joint venture between the GSI and the MI and is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). INFOMAR Phase 1, 2006 to 2015 focused on mapping 26 priority bays and 3 priority areas around Ireland and creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in those areas. INFOMAR Phase 2, 2016 to 2026 intends to map the remainder of Ireland’s entire seabed.
  • CV22_02 INFOMAR Survey Report

    Sheehan, Kevin; INFOMAR Survey Team (Marine Institute, 2023-05)
    Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute (MI) conducted seabed mapping between 2003 and 2005 under the auspices of the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) and mapping continued from 2006 to present day under the INtegrated mapping FOr the sustainable development of Irelands MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme. INSS, which commenced in 1999 under the GSI was one of the largest marine mapping programmes ever undertaken globally, with a focus on deep water mapping. INFOMAR is a joint venture between the GSI and the MI and is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). INFOMAR Phase 1, 2006 to 2015 focused on mapping 26 priority bays and 3 priority areas around Ireland and creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in those areas. INFOMAR Phase 2, 2016 to 2026 intends to map the remainder of Ireland’s entire seabed.
  • Cruise report: Irish Anglerfish & Megrim Survey 2023

    Kelly, Eoghan; Moore, S.J.; Coleman, Paul; Aristegui Ezquibela; Stokes, David; Ni Chonchuir, G. (Marine Institute, 2023)
    The 2023 Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (IAMS) took place from 11th February to 7th March in ICES (International Council Exploration of the Sea) Divisions 7.b-c and 7.j-k, and 14th to 23rd April in ICES Division 6.a on-board the Research Vessel Celtic Explorer. The main objective of the survey was to obtain biomass and abundance indices for anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius and Lophius budegassa) and megrim (Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis and Lepidorhombus boscii) in ICES Division 6.a (south of 58°N) and Subarea 7 (west of 8°W). Secondary objectives were to collect data on the distribution, relative abundance and biology of other commercially exploited species. For the fifth year, additional sampling took place in deep water (up to 1,500m) in order to monitor the recovery of exploited deep-water species following the decline of the deep-water fisheries in Irish waters since early 2000s (Kelly and Gerritsen, 2022). This work was funded under Marine Biodiversity Schemes of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) from 2019 to 2021 and European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) since 2022. The IAMS survey is coordinated with the Scottish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (SIAMISS) as part of ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey Working Group (IBTSWG) and uses the same gear and fishing practices.
  • Atlantic Herring in 6aS/7b, Industry Acoustic Survey Cruise Report, November-December 2022

    O’Malley, M.; Mullins, Eugene; Nolan, Cormac (Marine Institute, 2023)
    An acoustic survey of Atlantic herring Clupea harengus was conducted in ICES areas 6aS/7b in November/December 2022 and January 2023. The 2022 survey was conducted using five vessels; MFVs Crystal Dawn WD201, Ros Ard SO745, Girl Kate SO427, Johnny G S653 (d) and Conquest SO852. The 6aS/7b survey design in 2022 focused on 6 core areas with prior knowledge of herring distribution from previous surveys and the monitoring fishery were targeted for surveying. The change in survey design since 2020 was largely based on the results from ICES WKHASS (ICES 2020) and from lessons learned in the previous surveys in this area from 2016-2019. This design resulted in a much reduced survey area compared to previous years, but with better coverage of most of the important inshore bays where the monitoring fishery takes place. The survey design objective remained the same; to capture the distribution of winter spawning herring in the 6aS/7b area, but this design was not expected to achieve overall stock containment. The timing of surveys in the core areas was flexible from the outset by design. The greater flexibility allows for a targeted spatial and temporal approach which avoided the inevitable poor weather that can happen in this area during this time of the year and which led to reduced survey effort in some previous years. Using smaller vessels allowed surveys to be conducted in shallow inshore areas where herring are known to aggregate during this time of the year. This survey is the seventh consecutive annual acoustic survey for pre-spawning herring in this area at this time of the year. A pole-mounted system with a combi 38 kHz (split) 200 kHz (single) transducer was used successfully for the survey on small vessels (<18m) in 2022. Herring were again distributed inshore in shallow areas, and the improved survey design and use of small vessels for the survey resulted in a good measure of uncertainty (CV =0.25). The stock was not overall contained in 2022, particularly in the Donegal Bay area (Malin Beg, etc.) and more effort is required to target surveys earlier and later than December and January when herring tend to show up in these areas in difficult to predict patterns. Very strong herring marks were evident in Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly in the channel in marks that extended for many miles in some cases. This was in areas where smaller boats in the fishery were concentrating effort. Herring had left the Swilly and Foyle by mid-February. There was also a series of strong herring marks in Bruckless Bay, Fintra Bay and Inver Bay in discreet areas, particularly in December. The monitoring fishery was being conducted on smaller boats in the same areas and close to the same time as the survey and biological samples from some of these vessels were used. There was a fairly tight distribution of length classes in all hauls, with most hauls dominated by larger (> 22 cm) mature fish. The 2- and 3-wr age class of herring accounted for 72% of the overall numbers in 2022. The total stock biomass (TSB) estimate of 54,046 tonnes is considered to be a minimum estimate of herring in the 6aS/7b survey area at the time of the survey. The 2022 estimate is the highest estimate in the time series. The flexible survey design and focusing on discreet areas was generally successful and is providing a good template for future survey designs.
  • International Blue Whiting Spawning Stock Survey (IBWSS) Spring 2023

    Marine Institute; Wageningen Marine Research; Institute of Marine Research; Faroe Marine Research Institute; Danish Institute for Fisheries Research; Spanish Institute of Oceanography (Marine Institute, 2023)
    Coordination of the survey was initiated at the meeting of the Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) in January 2023 and continued by correspondence until the start of the survey. During the survey, effort was refined and adjusted by the survey coordinator (Norway) using real time observations.
  • Environmental Survey of Coastal Waters (Galway - Dublin – Galway): – Winter nutrients, benthic macro-invertebrate and contaminants monitoring 2022 (CV22-0013)

    O'Beirn, Francis; O'Donnell, Garvan (Marine Institute, 2022)
    The 2022 survey continues the Marine Institute’s Winter Nutrients monitoring that commenced in 1990/91. The survey has evolved and expanded during this time period with respect to target areas, parameters and sampling strategy. In 2011 this survey was re-established as a winter environmental survey with a broader remit to provide supporting information for OSPAR and Water Framework Directive (WFD- Directive 2000/60/EC) assessments and also to maintain the winter time series on key biogeochemical parameters in Irish waters in response to pressures such as land based inputs of nutrients and climate change. Since 2011 the survey circumnavigates the Island of Ireland every two years, alternating south-about and north-about, starting in the Irish Sea and ending in Galway. This provides a complete coverage of Ireland’s coastal waters over 2-year periods. However, given the timing of the surveys, winter by necessity to ensure minimal biological activity and therefore highest concentrations of dissolved nutrients, the weather is a significant factor in determining the actual as opposed to planned coverage of the target stations. The 2022 survey was designed to collect multidisciplinary information on physical conditions, water chemistry (dissolved nutrients, total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and salinity), sediment chemistry (persistent organic pollutants POPs and trace metals), sediment particle size distribution and benthic macroinvertebrates (at targeted waterbodies around the coast). This contributes to data collection needs of various statutory drivers (WFD and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Directive 2008/56/EC) as well as providing a research dataset on status and changing conditions (trends and variations) for key environmental variables. As a result of the COVID pandemic, in 2021 operational adjustments were implemented such that scientific complement on-board was limited to 2-3 persons at any one time. In light of this, the survey plan was adjusted to allow the survey to be completed in two legs (both south-about): 1. Leg 1 – Galway – Dublin: benthic macro-invertebrate sampling 2. Leg 2 – Dublin – Galway: winter nutrient, carbon and contaminants sampling. This survey structure was continued in 2022. Furthermore, and in order to fully achieve this plan, the number of survey days was increased to 17.
  • CV21_04 INFOMAR Survey Report

    Sheehan, Kevin; INFOMAR Survey Team (Marine Institute, 2022)
    Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute (MI) conducted seabed mapping between 2003 and 2005 under the auspices of the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) and this continued from 2006 to present day under the INtegrated mapping FOr the sustainable development of Irelands MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme. INSS was one of the largest marine mapping programmes ever undertaken globally, with a focus on deep water mapping. INFOMAR is a joint venture between the GSI and the MI and is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC). INFOMAR Phase 1, 2006 to 2015 focused on mapping 26 priority bays and 3 priority areas around Ireland and creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in those areas. INFOMAR Phase 2, 2016 to 2026 intends to map the remainder of Ireland’s entire seabed. As of 2018 the remaining survey area has been split at the 30 nautical mile limit (Nm). The inshore survey fleet, managed by GSI is responsible for mapping inshore of the 30Nm limit and the MI vessels are responsible for mapping the offshore.
  • Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey Cruise Report 2022, 09 - 29 October 2022

    O’Donnell, Ciaran; Mullins, Eugene; Daly, E.; Keogh, Niall; Shine, Andrew (Marine Institute, 2022)
    In the southwest of Ireland and the Celtic Sea (ICES Divisions VIIaS, g and j), herring are an important commercial species to the pelagic and polyvalent fleet. The local fleet is composed of dry hold polyvalent vessels and a smaller number of large purpose built refrigerated seawater vessels (RSW). The stock is composed of both autumn and winter spawning components with the latter dominating. The fishery targets pre-spawning and spawning aggregations in Q3-4. The Irish commercial fishery has historically taken place within 1-20nmi (nautical miles) of the coast. However, since the mid-2000s RSW fleet have actively targeted offshore aggregations migrating from summer feeding in the south Celtic Sea. In VIIj, the fishery is traditionally active from mid-November and is concentrated within several miles of the coast. The VIIaS fishery peaks towards the year end in December, but may be active from mid-October depending on location. In VIIg, along the south coast herring are targeted from October (offshore) to January at a number of known spawning sites and surrounding areas. Overall, the protracted spawning period of the two components extends from October through to February, with annual variation of up to 3 weeks. Spawning occurs in successive waves in a number of well known locations including large scale grounds and small discreet spawning beds. Since 2008 ICES division VIIaS (spawning box C) has been closed to fishing for vessels over 15m to protect first time spawners. For those vessels less than 15m a small allocation of the quota is given to this ‘sentinel’ fishery operating within the closed area. The stock structure and discrimination of herring in this area has been investigated recently. Hatfield et al. (2007) has shown the Celtic Sea stock to be fairly discrete. However, it is known that fish in the eastern Celtic Sea recruit from nursery areas in the Irish Sea, returning to the Celtic Sea as young adults (Brophy et al. 2002; Molloy et al., 1993). The stock identity of VIIj herring is less clear, though there is evidence that they have linkages with VIIb and VIaS (ICES, 1994; Grainger, 1978). Molloy (1968) identified possible linkages between young fish in VIIj and those of the Celtic Sea herring. For the purpose of stock assessment and management divisions VIIaS, VIIg and VIIj have been combined since 1982. For a period in the 1970s and 1980s, larval surveys were conducted for herring in this area. However, since 1989, acoustic surveys have been carried out, and currently are the only tuning indices available for this stock. In the Celtic Sea and VIIj, herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989. Since 2004 the survey has been fixed in October and carried out onboard the RV Celtic Explorer. This year, the survey was conducted onboard the RV Tom Crean. Survey design and geographical coverage have been modified over the time series to adapt to changes in stock size and behaviour. Since 2016, the wider core distribution area has been surveyed by means of two independent surveys and supplemented with small high resolution adaptive surveys focusing on areas of high abundance.
  • Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS) 14 June –24 July, 2022. FSS Survey Series: 2022/03

    O'Donnell, Ciaran; O’Malley, Michael B.; Mullins, Eugene; Power, John; judge, Justin; Croot, P. (Marine Institute, 2022)
    The WESPAS survey program is the consolidation of two existing survey programs carried out by FEAS, the Malin Shelf herring acoustic survey, and the boarfish acoustic survey. The Malin Shelf herring acoustic survey has been carried out annually since 2008 and reports on the annual abundance of summer feeding aggregations of herring to the west of Scotland and to the north and west of Ireland from 53°30’N to 58°30’N. The boarfish survey was conducted from 2011 using a chartered fishing vessel and reported the abundance of spawning aggregations of boarfish from 47°N to 57°N. In 2016 both surveys were combined into the WESPAS survey and have been carried out onboard the RV Celtic Explorer over a 42-day period, providing synoptic coverage of shelf waters from 47°30’N northwards to 58°30’N. Age stratified relative stock abundance estimates of boarfish, herring and horse mackerel within the survey area were calculated using acoustic data and biological data from trawl sampling. Stock estimates of boarfish and horse mackerel were submitted to the ICES assessment Working Group for Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE) meeting in August 2022. Herring estimates are submitted to the Herring Assessment Working Group (HAWG) meeting in March every year. Survey performance will be reviewed at the ICES Planning Group meeting for International Pelagic Surveys (WGIPS) meeting in January 2023.

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