Since the 1930’s, Belgian researchers organize scientific campaigns on board of commercial vessels to investigate the shrimp fisheries and their bycatch along the Belgian Coast. Research focused on the identification of the species captured during fishing, determining the impact of shrimp fisheries on the shrimp and fish populations, and gear alteration in order to optimize catch and minimize bycatch.
Today almost a century of catch data exists. Most of these data (the majority fish and benthos counts or densities) were fragmented in reports or original paper forms and have been digitized and merged in a large database by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) and the Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO).
During this workshop data series were explored starting from the 1930s up to now and a first discussion started how to optimize these data in order to define possible research questions such as: How can we detect relations between species abundances trends and climate change, eutrophication, changes in gear or the occurrence of certain predators in the Belgian part of the North Sea.
To handle these and other research questions a steering group was established consisting of experts of both VLIZ and ILVO.