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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.

Most of the smaller vessels in the coastal reference fleet have only been equipped with conventional fishlength measuring boards. IMR personnel instruct the responsible contact persons on each vessel, provide training support, visit the vessels, and update the scientific equipment when necessary.The agreement between IMR and the reference fleet includes an obligation for the vessels to record their catch logbooks electronically. The trawlers, danish- and purse seiners should make a complete record (including discards) of each catch, while longliners and gillnetters should do so for one representative fleet per day and in addition for the whole day catch. The coastal fleet should make a complete record of the entire day catch.

Crew members are trained to conduct self-sampling following IMR’s protocols. Biological samples include length, otoliths, genetic samples, stomachs, contaminants, tagging etc. The data are recorded electronically and transmitted to the IMR via a satellite link together with the electronic logbooks. This information is continuously added to the IMR’s research database. There is also a direct e-mail connection between each vessel and the IMR.

In addition, the IMR has access to data from the vessel monitoring system (satellite tracking) operated by the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries. The reference fleet may also be requested to make specific observations and collect urgently needed data, and could also be used to collect environmental- and hydrographic data if it does not hamper the normal fishing activity. The reference fleet makes it thus possible for the IMR to be in the right place at the right time.

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.