"Fisheries and Aquaculture" conducts research on a wide range of fisheries management issues. Research topics include the development of generic tools for evaluating fisheries management plans, in anticipation that future fisheries management plans will be fleet-based or fishery-based, and therefore will require a multi-species perspective.
A set of generic tools for bio-economic modeling is being developed in "FLR", the fisheries library in the R statistical language. The tools allow the easy construction of multi-fleet, multi-species fishery simulation models that can be used for various purposes, such as evaluating indicators of fishing capacity, studying how regulations influence discards, or comparing the costs and benefits of different management approaches (e.g. quotas on catches versus quotas on landings versus quotas on fishing effort, penalties for non-compliance with regulations). There is also research on developing and validating models to identify feeding and spawning habitats of bluefin tuna and define high priority areas for protection. The modeling approach is being extended to cover more species (e.g. small pelagic fishes).
For fishing effort management, "Fisheries and Aquaculture" standardizes fleet-specific effort and catch data for most EU sea-basins to enable effective checks for compliance with agreed fishing effort reductions. This results in higher data quality and benefits policy-makers and scientific researchers alike.
Following experience gained in FP6 project COBECOS, "Fisheries and Aquaculture" follows-up with research in the cost-benefit / optimization of fisheries enforcement strategies. This entails validation of the models and software in pilot projects with selected fisheries enforcement authorities and the CFCA.
The "Fisheries and Aquaculture" Action of the Joint Research Centre Maritime Affairs Unit is actively pursuing the integration of genetics, genomics, chemistry and forensics to improve existing fisheries control and enforcement frameworks as well as traceability schemes. To this end it initiated a variety of projects participates in international research endeavours, and also published recently the JRC Reference Report "Deterring Illegal Activities in the Fisheries Sector".
"Fisheries and Aquaculture" conducts research and technology watch in forensic genetics and chemistry to detect the origin of fish and fish products. FishPopTrace is an on-going FP7 collaborative research project started in 2008 aiming at the development of traceability tools supporting a "from ocean to fork" approach through technologies based on molecular genetics, otolith microchemistry and morphometrics. "Fisheries and Aquaculture" is partner and, among other things, is in charge of integrating the project's genetic and chemical data into a seascape GIS framework.
STURSNIP is a small research project commissioned by JRC to develop Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms for sturgeon product traceability. JRC's role includes developing the project's database, the GIS visualization facilities and disseminating the results to the wider scientific community. STURSNIP is the most recent of a series of similar projects concerning origin assignment of EU commercial fish species.
Based on previous assessments that characterize discarding in selected European fisheries, "Fisheries and Aquaculture" conducts research to develop tools for evaluating the effectiveness of a range of discard mitigation measures.
This is done using a simulation framework to compare alternative harvest strategies, assessment methods and performance indicators. Parameters include information on catch composition, fleet structure, and the seasonal, and spatial distribution of fishing.
Other recent "Fisheries and Aquaculture" research includes one project to "harden" vessel tracking devices (e.g., VMS and AIS) based on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)] used on board fishing and other vessels. These devices, which automatically report their global position as required by authorities, are vulnerable to falsification of their position messages. This research examined a range of possible actions, from physical tampering to software hacking of GNSS tracking units, and proposed a series of options to counter them. Another project was research on "Maritime targets in high resolution satellite SAR images", which explored the application of SAR autofocus methodologies in order to improve vessel detection performance and image quality of target vessels.