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Templates and protocols for self-sampling

Karim Erzini; Kim Stobberup; Vincent Lucas; Nina Mikkelsen

In the EU, the Data Collection Framework (DCF) applies to all fisheries carried out by EU vessels, including those fishing outside EU waters under Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPA). Although observer coverage of up to 100% has been achieved through collaboration with industry in some SFPA fisheries, the observer coverage in many others SFPAs is low. Lack of data for stock assessment and management of many stocks and species is a global problem. In this context, self-sampling schemes have been implemented in a wide range of commercial and recreational fisheries worldwide as a supplement to data collected by observers. Studies in the EU have shown that self-sampling can be a valuable and cost-effective method of data collection, with the added benefit of involving fishers in the scientific process of assessment and management of their fisheries. In EU fisheries, much of the self-sampling in recent years has been driven by the Common Fishery Policy (CFP) landings obligation (discards ban), where reference fleets (selected representative vessels chosen for the self-sampling scheme) apply self-sampling of catches and discards, with samples of the latter usually brought back to land for processing by fisheries scientists. Although not common, some self-sampling schemes have used fishers to collect samples for age and growth studies and even stomachs for analysis of diets.

Self-sampling schemes require volunteer fishers who are motivated and willing to carry out the extra work. Often, an incentive (e.g. financial, more days at sea, more quota) is required to guarantee fisher collaboration. Successful self-sampling programmes are based on mutual trust building between scientists and fishers, and discussion of the goals of the research, the data/sample collection methods and how the collected data/samples will be used. Data collection protocols must be followed, with clearly written instructions and forms used. Fishers need to be adequately trained in collecting data and biological samples in a consistent and standardized way and they should be provided with all the necessary material for the sampling.

Observer coverage of FarFish CS SFPA fisheries is variable, reaching up to 100% in some fisheries, with the level of coverage depending on the RFMO, the SFPA context and the national legislation of the third country. Implementing self-sampling in the FarFish CS was discussed with the industry (Spanish operators and LDAC) in the FarFish Workshop in Vigo (26-27 June 2018). The industry representatives were not favourable to implementing self-sampling in their fleets. Consequently, no sampling templates or protocols for the FarFish CS are proposed at this stage. This issue should be taken up with the CS leaders and industry representatives. 

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 727891.
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