A report, recently published by ICES, marks an important milestone in the incorporation of information generated by the fishing industry itself into the stock assessment process. The report follows an important meeting of scientists and industry representatives earlier in the year, in Copenhagen, during which industry representatives described the many forms that industry/science partnerships are already taking and could take in the future.
It is unreasonable to expect good management decisions to emerge from weak or flawed stock assessments, and so the fishing industry has a strong vested interest in working in partnership with scientists to deliver accurate and relevant information on aspects that are not delivered through the more formal parts of the assessment process.
Various fisheries science partnerships have been underway for many years. The NFFO/CEFAS/DEFRA Fisheries Science Partnership, for instance, was first established in 1993. The significance of the present report, however, is the acknowledgement in the very senior parts of ICES, that industry information, carefully collected has a central, rather than marginal, part to play.
One of the challenges identified in the report is the need to ensure that industry data is collected in a format that allows it to be used in ICES stock assessments. There is nothing more frustrating than submitting data which is then rejected because of doubts over its provenance or quality. To address this, one of the next steps is to produce a protocol/guidance which can be used at the design stage of any new partnership project to ensure that the information can be used in the assessment process.
The report from the Workshop on Science with Industry Initiatives (WKSCINDI) is now available at the ICES Community website here.