Manual for Version 3 of the Groundfish Survey Monitoring and Assessment Data Product
Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 8 No 18
Coastal European Union (EU) Member States (MS) operate groundfish surveys that cover almost the entire continental shelf of the Northeast Atlantic off Western Europe. Some survey work is also carried out in deeper shelf-edge waters and on sea mounts and plateaus further west in the wider Atlantic Ocean. These surveys use different vessels and different fishing gears, are undertaken at different times of year following various methodological approaches. The data are recorded and archived in a variety of different formats. The data obtained from many of these surveys are routinely uploaded and stored on an open access data portal on the ICES website: the DATRAS portal. The DATRAS portal allows for the uploading of data collected, recorded and archived in a variety of different forms and formats, but the resulting database structure required to accommodate this is far more complicated, and potentially confusing for users, than is really necessary, with many fields in the database simply explaining how other fields should be interpreted. Furthermore, the data stored on the DATRAS database have long been known to be affected by various data quality issues. These have not been addressed in a single co-ordinated process, rather it has been left to individual data users to make any corrections that they deem necessary, effectively resulting in multiple different versions being in circulation of what is in fact a single DATRAS data set. The MSFD requires formal assessment of the state of marine ecosystems in EU waters. Fish communities constitute a key component in the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems, so formal assessment of the state of the fish component is, therefore, mandatory. To meet their MSFD obligations, EU MS have invariably nominated their groundfish surveys as part of their marine monitoring programmes. However, to meet the obligation for formal assessment at the required regional seas spatial scale, these issues of data standardisation and quality assurance noted in the groundfish survey data stored on DATRAS all need to be resolved. The Groundfish Survey Monitoring and Assessment (GSMA) data product sets out to address these issues; to derive a single set of fully standardised and quality assured data products for all the surveys operating in the Northeast Atlantic.