Since 2011 when ICES PGNAPES was dissolved and WGIPS (Working Group on International Pelagic Surveys) was formed we have annual post cruise meetings shortly after the surveys. Goal of these working groups is to collate the multi-national data collected during the surveys, and the computation of the final biomass estimates as well as the formulation of a final survey report. As I was cruise leader on this years blue whiting survey, I was participating at the the post-cruise meeting held in Tórshavn (Faeroe Islands).
The final report we formulated can be found here
In general terms the conclusion was that the blue whiting stock is doing well with a total estimated biomass of 3.25 million tons, which is a very slight decrease since last year but still showing a good recruitment (a reasonable amount of young fish, which means that the stock can be expected to do well in the coming years as well). This is considered a good result given that the stock was on a strong downwards trend up until 2011 and is now back at a level, comparable to 2007. Further the distribution was observed to be way more southern when compared to previous years, which seems to be an indication of an earlier start of the migration. More information on the distribution can be found in my post on the distribution of blue whiting using a geostatistical approach.
A few additional items of the agenda we have been busy with: Working on the Survey manual (which should at some point be a manual which whoever could pick up and be able to run an acoustic pelagic survey), we had a brief presentation of Stocks, (the new Norwegian software allowing a standardised analysis of post-processed acoustic data) and I gave a quick talk on geostatistics and how to apply them on acoustic data.
After the blue whiting post-cruise meeting was over and the job was done, Sascha and me hired a car to explore the islands a bit…Some impressions (conclusion: A lot of sheep, and some weird tourist attractions or did we miss the real ones?):