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The Norwegian Reference Fleet

It is especially important to know how each age group is harvested since this is basic and necessary input data for many of the assessment models currently used to estimate fish stock sizes.

The Institute of Marine Research has always had a close and good cooperation with fishermen and the fishing industry. These contact and information flows have traditionally occurred by having institute personnel collect scientific samples on board fishing vessels or at ports, and on board commercial fishing vessels chartered for conducting scientific research surveys. The Reference Fleet aims to improve data collection and information flows both from and to the fishermen.

What is the reference fleet?

The reference fleet is a small group of Norwegian fishing vessels that provide the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) with detailed information about their fishing activity and catches on a regular basis. The sampling and data management procedures are similar to the system used on board IMR’s research vessels. Data is used for management purposes including stock assessment.

A high-seas reference fleet was established in 2000 and consists of 15 vessels (there is an ongoing tender for four of these vessels). In autumn 2005, a similar coastal reference fleet was established along the entire Norwegian Coast from Varanger to Oslofjord. This fleet is composed of 19 vessels (mainly gillnetters, 9–15 m long). Public announcement every fourth year opens up for replacement of the fleet and motivates fishermen involvement.

From 2014, the reference fleet received a new form for financing. The Norwegian fishing fleet is now imposed a research duty on firsthand sales of fish from Norwegian fisheries. A portion of the proceeds from this research fee are allocated by the Norwegian authorities to the reference fleet.

Facts about the Reference Fleet, 2014:

  • 15 large offshore vessels; 9 with conventional gear, 4 factory trawlers and 2 industry trawlers.
  • 19 smaller coastal vessels (9-15 meters), mainly gill-netters.
  • The vessels are selected based on gear type, fishing activity and geography.
  • The objective is to have a reference fleet that is representative of the Norwegian fishing fleet.
  • The vessel's good reputation and concern for the fishing resources are important in the selection process.
  • Provides more detailed information on species composition in commercial catches than any previous datasets.
  • The reference fleet, along with IMR's own vessels and additional sampling from fisheries, are the main source of the age and length data for stock assesment of the main commercial species.
  • The reference fleet is an important source of information about the distribution between coastal cod and Northeast Arctic cod.
  • CPUE data (catch per unit effoft) has been used as support in fisheries management.

Sampling and equipment

The data are collected and delivered to the IMR according to a contract that secures a proper statistical coverage for a defined number of species in time and by area. Each vessel in the high-seas Reference Fleet is equipped with an electronic fish sampling board (Scantrol) , scales and otolith sampling device, a PC1) with specialized software for satellite communication, and other equipment for different research purposes.
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A useful data collection platform for many purposes

Results are mainly used for assessment purposes,  e.g., for estimating total catch in tonnes by length  and/or age groups in numbers, and hence improves  stock assessments and fisheries management .
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Contact

Kjell Nedreaas
995 38 549
Tom Williams
924 00 116
Harald Senneset
905 49 752
Asbjørn Borge
916 14 764