Important legal notice
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Fisheries and Aquaculture
Fisheries and Aquaculture - Towards sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture activities
“To demonstrate the feasibility and value of a comprehensive on-line atlas as an aide to improving fishery management and informing stakeholders and the general public.”

The problem

Fishery scientists possess a wealth of information that is important for the management decision-making process but is not readily available to all interested parties because it is contained in technical papers. In 1993, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) published the Atlas of North Sea Fishes, based on data from 1985 to 1987. Since then, new information has become available which would make it possible to describe and compare seasonal distributions in the 1990s. The complete set of data from the International Bottom Trawl Survey (IBTS) in February, dating back to 1965, has also become available which would help illustrate the major shifts in North Sea stock levels and distributions over more than three decades.

ICES‑FishMap  Updating the ICES Atlas of North Sea Fishes


ICES-FishMap is the first phase of a potential two-phase programme.

  • This first phase will update and publish on-line the existing Atlas of North Sea Fishes: maps showing (seasonal) distributions, changes in abundance over the past decades, etc.
  • The most important commercial species will be included, in addition to some species of particular ecological interest
  • The on-line atlas will contain interactive maps that will allow direct comparison of distributions between years
  • A second phase is dependent on further funding, but it would develop a fully interactive on-line atlas with wider species coverage. Where possible, it will also include information from the Baltic and Mediterranean; a hard-copy colour NE Atlantic Fish Atlas would then be published

Contribution to policy development

  • The project will demonstrate the feasibility and value of a comprehensive, readily understood and up-to-date fishery reference document
  • This pilot atlas will provide (limited) ready-reference material that can contribute to the debate on marine protected areas (MPAs)
  • A full-scale atlas would give policy-makers access to a robust reference work that enables them to assess historic precedents, seasonal variations and current status to ensure that future fishery management decisions utilise all  relevant and available information

Project deliverables

  • Update and extend the content of ICES Atlas of North Sea Fishes; ICES Fish Ecology Working Group to review the text – start October 2004, end August 2005
  • Interim progress report – April 2005
  • Project final report – October 2005


  • Project website to show current status of report – ongoing
  • On-line version of ICES Atlas of North Sea Fishes, accessible via the ICES website ( – October 2005

Technical information

Project acronym: ICES-FishMap
Project’s official full title: Update and revision of the ICES Atlas of North Sea fishes: a web-based application
Research priority: 1.3. Modernisation and sustainability of fisheries, including aquaculture-based production systems
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 513661
Start date: 1 October 2004
Kick off meeting: October 2004
Completion date: October 2005
European Commission scientific officer: Tore Jakobsen (

Name: Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research
Abbreviated name: RIVO
Address: Haringkade 1
1976 CP Ijmuiden
Postbus 68
1970 AB Ijmuiden
The Netherlands
Country: Netherlands
Tel: 00-31-2550-64646
Fax: 00-31-2550-64644


Name: Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science
Abbreviated name: CEFAS
Country: United Kingdom

Name: International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
Abbreviated name: ICES
Country: Denmark