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Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Reports

Formal report series, containing results of research and monitoring carried out by Marine Scotland Science


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Using commercial and survey data to infer real-time fish distribution in the North Sea at high resolution

**Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 8 No 10
The EU Landings Obligation has focussed attention on the urgent need to develop effective strategies for reducing the catch of unwanted species or sizes of fish. Real-time reporting is the term used for the rapid collation, analysis and dissemination of bycatch data so as to enable skippers to improve the match between catch composition and available quota. Informed by experience with bycatch reduction in US fisheries, this report (FISA 01/15) considers how real-time reporting could be used in Scotland and outlines a workplan for developing this capacity. In Scotland, there are several sources of data that are useful for real-time reporting. E-logbook information is currently available in near real-time to individual producer organisations and used for internal reporting purposes. Ongoing improvements to software will soon make these real-time data more accessible to industry. Bycatch information is also collected by the observer programmes coordinated by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Marine Scotland Science. Fisheries-independent data are available from surveys conducted twice a year. Consultations with Scottish industry revealed general agreement about the utility of real-time reporting for bycatch reduction but reservations about the likelihood of getting skippers to share information. It was also apparent that some skippers are already sharing information across a small network of peers via social media. Developing incentives for sharing information about bycatch within a trusted network of skippers, for example those belonging to the same producer organisation, is critically important. Real-time reporting utilises existing data resources and available computer and information technology to enhance spatial selectivity. Recommendations are made regarding the further development of statistical models and real-time reporting systems. The need for institutional and attitudinal change is highlighted.

Marshall, C.T., Wiff, R. and Cornulier, T. (2017) Using commercial and survey data to infer real-time fish distribution in the North Sea at high resolution. Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 8 No 10, 71pp. DOI: 10.7489/1973-1
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Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Temporal Coverage
2014-01-01 to 2015-12-31
UK Open Government Licence (OGL)
Data Dictionary

Using juvenile cod in the North Sea as an example of unwanted bycatch, observer data were merged with survey data in a scientifically robust statistical framework to develop maps of juvenile cod distribution by month which have the potential for mapping densities of unwanted bycatch with high spatial and temporal resolution. A Bayesian modelling approach was used such that the model could be continually updated in time as new information became available. The use of real-time reporting in Alaskan and Pacific Northwest demersal fisheries to meet regulatory limits on bycatch of salmon was reviewed. Data about the location and magnitude of salmon bycatch are shared in real-time across fishing vessels belonging to the same fishing cooperative. High bycatch triggers e-mail alerts which are sent to skippers who then use the information for tactical decision making. The information is also used by cooperative managers to establish area closures, termed rolling hotspots, and monitor effectiveness of these closures.

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Marine Scotland Science
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