ICES Expert Working Group Meetings. 3-7 April 2017.

3 April 2017 - 8:30am

NIWA welcomes you to the 2017 joint meeting of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) - ICES Working Group on Fisheries Acoustics, Science and Technology (WGFAST), the ICES-FAO Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour (WGFTFB).

The ICES 2017 programme

Download the ICES 2017 programme and all meeting agendas [PDF 3.5MB]

2017 ICES-FAO Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour (WGFTFB)

Convenors:   Haraldur A. Einarsson (Iceland), Petri Suuronen (FAO)

4 - 7 April 2017, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of Reference

A. Deliberate, discuss and synthesize recent research on topics related to: i) Designing, planning, and testing of fishing gears used in abundance estimation; ii) Selective fishing gears for the reduction of bycatch, discard and unaccounted mortality, especially as they relate to EU Landing Obligation; iii) Environmentally benign fishing gears and methods, iv) Improving fuel efficiency and reduction of emission from fisheries, and v) Summaries of research activities by nation

B. Organize a FAO-hosted FAO-ICES mini-symposium with thematic issues. Symposium themes will be determined at Year 2, and included in the updated ToR.

C. Deliberate, discuss and synthesize recent research on topics of mutual interest between WGFTFB and WGFAST.

D. Help organize an ICES-sponsored international fishing technology and fish behaviour symposium.

E. Support survey working group with gear expertise support upon request.

Topic list for WGFTFB abstract submission:

1. Designing, planning, and testing of fishing gears used in abundance estimation

2. Selective fishing gears for the reduction of bycatch, discard and unaccounted mortality

3. Environmentally benign fishing gears and methods

4. Improving fuel efficiency and reduction of emission from fisheries

5. Other

Topic Groups for the 2017 WGFTFB Meeting

Topic Group: Change Management in Fisheries (Change)
Convenors: Steve Eayrs (USA) and Michael Pol (USA)

To be held within WGFTFB session times, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of reference:

  1. Evaluate the applicability of change management concepts and models in a fisheries context
  2. Review and evaluate fisheries case studies and initiatives to bring about change, including Knowledge networks, Environmental Management Systems, Fisheries Improvement Projects, and others
  3. Explore models of human behavior that may contribute to resistance to change
  4. Identify and categorize circumstances and approaches that led to both the successful and unsuccessful introduction of change initiatives in fisheries.


Despite a plethora of efforts by fishing technologist, conservation engineers, and others to reduce the environmental impacts of fishing and increase fishing efficiency and profitability, commercial fishers are generally highly resistant to changing their fishing gear and practice. In the business world, responses to change are increasingly being guided by change management concepts and models, however, their application to the fishing industry has been scant, piecemeal, and incomplete. These concepts and models provide greater understanding of resistance to change and could potentially provide an insight into new approaches to facilitate change in the fishing industry. By reviewing knowledge of these concepts and models, and past efforts to facilitate change in fisheries including holistic approaches such as Knowledge Networks, Environmental Management Systems, and Fishery Improvement Projects, we hope to identify circumstances, models, techniques, and approaches that will result in smoother, more cost-effective change initiatives in the fishing industry in future.

Topic Group: Contact Probability of Selective Devices (Contact)
Convenors: Daniel Stepputtis (Germany) and Bent Herrmann (Denmark)

To be held within WGFTFB session times,  Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of reference:

  1. Summarize current and past work in relation to contact probability
  2. Discuss and describe methods (experimental and statistical) to investigate and quantify contact probability
  3. Investigate and make recommendations on how to improve contact probability in selective devices, including:
    a) Identification of gears and selective devices with suboptimal contact probability (preferably based on current gear trials from group members)
    b) Discussion on potential causes and solutions
    c) Recommendations on experimental/theoretical work to understand and improve the contact probability


Over the past decades, numerous selective devices have been developed and tested. Many of them did not fulfil expectations and even those that are now being used can probably be improved.
A key factor influencing the effectiveness of selectivity devices is the probability of a given specimen to contact the specific selection device. Nevertheless, this factor is often not sufficiently considered when developing selective devices. Additionally, few selectivity studies have quantified the contact probability of these devices although it underpins how they perform and how they can be improved.

This Topic Group will be highly relevant to the further development of sustainable fisheries, especially in the light of discard ban, single and multispecies selectivity and potentially also for balanced harvesting - in a wider sense.

Topic Group: Evaluation of trawl groundgear for efficiency, bycatch and impact on the sea-bed (Groundgear)
Convenors: Roger B. Larsen (Norway), Antonello Sala (Italy) and Pingguo He (USA)

To be held within WGFTFB session times, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of reference:

  1. Describing and summarizing current and past work in relation to seabed contact/impact of various types of bottom-trawl groundgear
  2. Discussing and describing possible methods to reduce unnecessary bottom contact and fuel use due to the groundgear
  3. Discussing and summarizing the effect of trawl groundgear on the efficiency and selectivity for target and bycatch species
  4. Making recommendations on future experimental and theoretical work to understand and improve the function of groundgear of bottom trawls
  5. Making recommendations on the "best practice" regarding the design and operation of bottom trawls with less effect on ecosystem and emission.


With uncertainties around the use of groundgear in bottom trawling and its impact on bottom fauna, it is important to review the current status of the design and use of groundgears in various fisheries and to propose new investigations that will contribute to more environmentally-friendly fishing gears. Continuous contact between gear and seabed during bottom trawling is believed to be of importance for efficient harvesting in many groundfish fisheries, but in some bottom trawls, total weight of the trawl may be out of proportions for the purpose. High fuel consumption in trawl fisheries is often associated with heavy groundgear being dragged along the seabed. Recent research and practices in the North Pacific and Northwest Atlantic bottom-trawl fisheries indicate that ground-contacting components including groundgear can be modified with no or little impact on the catch of target species. In the Northeast Atlantic, bottom trawling is often performed in areas of important fisheries for king crab and the rapid growing snow crab fishery, with unknown impact on these crab stocks. As crab fisheries increase in intensity, more gears will be damaged and lost due to collisions between trawl and pot fisheries. Alternative and lighter groundgears have been tested, but it is unclear if they are efficient for retaining target species and not increasing the catch of unwanted bycatch compared to conventional configurations. Discussion and summary of current knowledge and possible future development of bottom trawl gear or its alternatives for harvesting traditional groundfish species.

Topic Group: Assessment on energy use and fuel consumption in fisheries (Energy)
Convenors: Emilio Notti (Italy) and Steve Eayrs (USA)

To be held within WGFTFB session times, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of reference:

  1. Identification of energy audit testing protocols and performance metrics e.g. country, fisheries, fleet sector, etc., including monitoring of GHG emissions
  2. Evaluation of the potential to harmonize audit protocols for information collection of energy use in different fisheries;
  3. Design of a general dataset for data and information collected, open data;
  4. Definition of performance metrics e.g. l/h; l/kg of catch, litre of fuel/nautical mile etc., and identify and discuss equipment and tools to evaluate performance;


The scope of this term of reference is a preliminary review of energy consumption related to fisheries based on general observation, by fleet, type of fishery, country, using a standard methodology so results from different areas could be more easily compared. It is expected to identify key/critical areas for future deeper analysis based on a standardized protocol of energy audit, and to evaluate the potential application of a standardized protocol across multiple fisheries or countries.
An information collection form will be circulated among FTFB partners. On the basis of information collected, the topic group will discuss and define metrics and methodologies to be applied, and recommendations and advice will be given to overcame similar constrains and challenges, including audit protocols and data collection.
The Topic Group will invite presentations from individuals with experience in energy audits and energy conservation. Additional discussion will compare and contrast audit protocols and evaluate related performance metrics, with a view of providing guidance for future audits.


2017 ICES Working Group on Fisheries Acoustics and Technology (WGFAST)

Convenor: Richard O'Driscoll (New Zealand)

4-7 April, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of Reference:

A. Collate information on acoustic related research and surveys by Country represented in WGFAST.

B. Present recent work within the topics "Applications of acoustic methods to characterize ecosystems", "Acoustic properties of marine organisms", "Behaviour", and "Emerging technologies, methodologies, and protocols".

C. Organize training session on use of acoustics for biomass estimation

D. Provide guidance for calibrating echosounders on fishing vessels.

E. Organize joint sessions at ICES ASC.

Topic list for WGFAST abstract submission:

1. Applications of acoustic methods to characterize ecosystems

2. Acoustic properties of marine organisms

3. Behaviour

4. Emerging technologies, methodologies, and protocols

5. Other

Topic Groups for the 2017 WGFAST Meeting

Topic Group: Calibrating echosounders on fishing vessels
Convenor: TBD (Adam Dunford has resigned)

Saturday 8 April, NIWA, 217 Akersten Street, Nelson

Fishing vessels have increasingly scientific-grade echosounders installed which can be used to collect acoustic information during ordinary fishing operations and several members of WGFAST have experience in using such data.

Topic group: Defining a data format for omnidirectional fisheries sonars
Convenor: Hector Pena (Norway)

Evening of Tuesday 4 April,  Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

The motivation behind the creation of this topic group is the increased interest in using fisheries sonar data for scientific purposes, which is available on many fishing vessels, but also for existing and new research vessels. There is currently no standard format used by the different manufacturers, nor an agreed request from the scientific community.
A common format agreed by WGFAST members will facilitate the use of this type of data and will give sonar manufactures and post-processing software developers more effective means to support the scientific use of omni-sonar data. The topic group will be led by Hector Pena (IMR, Norway).

Workshop: Collecting Quality Underwater Acoustic Data in Inclement Weather (WKQUAD)
Convenors: Matthias Schaber (Denmark) and Mike Jech (USA)

Friday 31 March – Sunday 2 April 2017 NIWA, 217 Akersten Street, Nelson

a) Review current knowledge and experience on the impact of weather conditions on acoustic data collected with a variety of single and multibeam, narrow and wideband echosounders and sonars operating at common acoustic frequencies used in fisheries acoustics on research vessels;
b) Develop standard procedures and methods for identifying unsuitable survey conditions, i.e. situations that are considered too degraded to continue collecting acoustic data;
c) Propose methods for dealing with degraded data;
d) Test and compare the proposed procedures and methods for selected datasets (to be made available before the workshop);
e) Provide recommendations based on b) and c) to ICES acoustic survey planning groups so that they can update the relevant SISP manuals.


Joint session (JFATB)

Convenors:  Paul Winger (Canada) and Chris Wilson (USA)

Monday 3 April 2017, Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Terms of reference:

WGFAST and WGFTFB have joint interests in the effects of observation methods on behaviour of fish and other marine organisms and the use of image analysis methods.

a) Review the observer effect: how platforms and instruments affect the behaviour of aquatic fauna.

b) Review recent progress in image analysis and machine learning techniques for efficient data processing in aquatic research.

Scientific justification

Term of Reference a)  All observation methods and platforms impact fish behaviour and consequently acoustic measurements and fishing gear catch performance. A group of acoustic and fishing technology experts is therefore well suited to discuss progress in the field from different perspectives.

Term of Reference b)  Optical imaging methods are increasinlgy used as auxiliary methods in various fields, including fisheries acoustic and gear technology studies. Both groups of experts can benefit from sharing their diversity in collecting and analysing optical data.

Topic list for JFATB abstract submission:

  1. Observer effect: how platforms and instruments affect the behaviour of aquatic fauna
  2. Image analysis and machine learning techniques for efficient data processing





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