Project Details


The project “Development of tools for logbook and VMS data analysis” was an EU project under studies for carrying out the common fisheries policy (No MARE/2008/10 Lot2). The aim of the project was to develop a set of standard protocols for coupling and simultaneous analyses of EU fisheries logbook and VMS satellite vessel record data.

The process began with the construction of standardized data formats for logbook (EFLALO) and VMS (TACSAT). The software for analyzing the data took the form of a fully documented package called vmstools, built using the freeware package, R ( Once the data have been imported into R in the correct format, a series of R programs or ‘functions’, linked by ‘scripts’ enable all tasks necessary to be completed in a single software environment. The software can ‘clean’ data and format input data, estimate distances between VMS positions, and métiers can be identified objectively from species assemblages in catch data using multivariate statistical techniques. 

We have included a range of complimentary methods for determining fishing activity from VMS position registrations. Positions at sea, for example, can be distinguished from vessels in harbor or erroneous positions on land. Position registrations of vessels actually fishing can be separated from those engaged in other activities (e.g. steaming) using their speed in conjunction with other information such as vessel size and gear being used.
Logbook and VMS data can be merged such that high-resolution spatial maps of catches of various commercial species can be generated. Individual vessel tracks can be reconstructed for more realism through different interpolation techniques (both linear and non-linear, i.e. using Hermite spline functions). Further, all the fishing activity indicators required under the Data Collection Framework can be calculated using vmstools. The package can also be used to explore the impact of different spatial (grid size) and temporal aggregations (month, quarterly, annual) which need to be explicitly considered when assessing fishing impact on the sea floor. There are also scripts for displaying results using Google Earth which is a useful aid for dissemination. 

The combination of all these routines ‘under one roof’ permitted and permits the construction of ‘Regional’ databases (i.e. FishFrame developed by DTU Aqua - a regional database hosted by one of the project partners) and scripts to produce output suitable for this are included with the vmstools package. 
As proof of concept, all analyses performed within each work package have been tested, using the vmstools package, against national datasets with contributions from the French, Danish, Irish, UK and Dutch institutes. As an example, FishFrame has been populated with Dutch and Danish combined VMS and logbook data for 2005-2009. 

The project demonstrated emphatically that logbook and VMS data from disparate countries with often different data collection regimens can be combined and compared using generic tools and that the output can be sent to regional databases permitting more holistic assessments of fishing activity. 

The project has built further on the networks and platforms produced under EU FP6 EFIMAS Project coordinated by DTU Aqua, and the DTU Aqua team associated with the project has produced several peer reviewed journal papers under Lot 2.

The project is coordinated by Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES), Wageningen UR, The Netherlands.
This project is funded by EU, Framework Programme 7.

Research area: Fisheries Management
Research area: Marine Living Resources
Effective start/end date01/01/200931/12/2012

Collaborative partners

  • Technical University of Denmark (lead)
  • Wageningen University & Research (Project partner)
  • Sea Fisheries Institute (Project partner)
  • Marine Institute (Project partner)
  • Marine Scotland (Project partner)
  • Cefas Weymouth Laboratory (Project partner)
  • Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer (Project partner)


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