ICES Areas, Divisions and Sub-Divisions are of significance to the fishing industry, because ICES Stock Assessment and EU Management areas are clearly delineated according to aggregations of one or more of these fishing areas. In recent years the rational for the exact placement of the boundaries of the fishing, assessment and management areas has been sought but often found to be unavailable. The appropriateness of the positioning of these boundaries has also been questioned on the basis of the current understanding of bio geographical factors that effect the distribution of fishes. The fact that there appears to be no publicly available documented rational for their original placement does little for the credibility of fisheries management in EU waters.
This study sought to review the literature and other sources with regards to the origins of the ICES Divisions, current ICES Assessment and EU management areas and to assess whether they are appropriate. This study was undertaken with a view to providing valuable input to the ongoing debate regarding the appropriateness of the traditional ICES assessment areas and EU Management areas in light of the current reviews of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
A number of fisheries management indicators and environmental parameters such as Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE), depth, sea surface temperature etc. were mapped with the aid of the Geographical Information System (ArcGIS). These data were analysed to determine if assessment and management areas were co-incident with specific parameters forming recognisable fishery boundaries or delineating species habitat ranges.