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Photo: Leif Nøttestad
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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.
  • Enables the IMR to allocate commercial catch sampling resources in time and space in a sound statistical way, and may thus provide higher temporal and spatial coverage for increased precision.
  • Documentation of the entire catch, especially discards at a finer spatial scale.
  • Provides observations of sea mammals, sea birds, crabs etc.
  • Contributes to determining the effects of regulations, which again may lead to more practical and purposeful regulations.
  • Provides continuous information about species that are rarely covered by research vessels (e.g., deep water species, near coast fish populations).
  • A platform for testing official catch and data collecting systems and procedures (e.g., electronic logbooks, reporting- and grading systems, discards).
  • Updates scientists on technological developments in the fisheries.
  • Reduces controversies and fosters a joint “ownership” spirit for data and results.
  • Allows for fishermen’s knowledge to become available for fishery research and management purposes.
  • Assist in designing projects to meet specific needs and can be adaptive.

Some concerns

  • Too few vessels may be involved to cover all the métiers in all areas and seasons necessary for stock assessments.
  • Vessel catch estimates may be lower than other sampling programmes especially for discards and non commercial species
  • Vessel involvement is voluntary.
  • Training, quality assurance and quality control are essential for accurate data reporting.

Facts about the Reference Fleet, 2018;

  • 14 large offshore vessels; 9 with conventional gear, 3 factory trawlers and 2 industry trawlers.
  • 24 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.