Optimising French fisheries surveys for marine strategy framework directive integrated ecosystem monitoring
The French initial assessment of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) highlighted the lack of reliable data concerning offshore areas. During the planning of the monitoring programmes, the scientists therefore proposed to partially cover this gap by using existing fisheries research vessel surveys deployed for the purposes of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This paper describes ways of improving the effectiveness of these surveys and making them better suited to delivering the information needed for the MSFD. The process took two years and became operational at the beginning of the year 2016. Testing phases from October 2013 to August 2015 had to be organized to fit within the ongoing fisheries tasks without significantly increasing the workload in terms of both time and human resources. Six fisheries research surveys henceforth collect new data, with or without additional sampling techniques. Specific examples are given with litter and hydrological data which will be used to assess the environmental status of French marine waters. The paper also identifies certain limitations regarding this approach. This French experiment enabled more efficient and effective use of current data collection efforts, while optimising vessel time and implementing an ecosystem approach in collecting data for fisheries management.