Fisheries

Our fisheries scientists provide expert advice to science and policy customers, as well as businesses in the fishery and energy sectors, with a focus on the status of marine finfish stocks, the regulation of marine fisheries and the mitigation of undesirable impacts of man’s activities.

This work requires robust scientific survey design and implementation, as well as a comprehensive understanding of national and international regulatory requirements for data collection. In running extensive research vessel surveys, sampling, data handling and collation programmes, Cefas supports stock assessment working groups in the UK and beyond, and provides scientific advice on marine fish stocks.

Data capture

We have developed innovative and market-leading technologies for data capture, data management and data analysis. Cefas’ Electronic Data Capture (EDC) system has been used to record data for the last 15 years - streamlining the data capture process, eliminating paper records, reducing sampling time and input errors and facilitating the real-time management of sampling targets. It is used by many organisations and is now being re-developed to expand its capability.

Fish stock surveys

We currently carry out four annual fish stock surveys around the UK on our purpose-built research vessel, the Cefas Endeavour. These provide information on the spatial distribution and relative abundance for important commercial species, as well as providing data for other non-commercial fish and shellfish. Cefas also regularly charters smaller commercial fishing vessels to undertake ad hoc surveys, which have enabled fish tagging programmes and studies to provide indices of young fish such as sole, plaice and bass.

Port sampling

Our port sampling programme collects data from the landings of around 2,500 vessels at over 182 ports around England and Wales. Sampling up to 65 commercially monitored fish and shellfish species, the programme provides quarterly estimates of landings for use in stock assessments.

The Cefas Observer Programme

Having monitored catches of fishing vessels in England and Wales consistently since 2002, the Cefas Observer Programme samples around 250 trips and 1,200 hauls each year, measuring approximately 350,000 fish annually. The primary objective of the programme is to collect data on the scale of discarding.

In addition to this, Cefas manages the Deep-water Observer Scheme, which collects data on the fishing gear deployed, fishing operations, species composition of catches and the quantities of catch retained and discarded.