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Historical marine fisheries data for Belgium: Data sources, data management and data integration related to the reconstruction of historical time-series of marine fisheries landings for Belgium
Lescrauwaet, A.-K.; Debergh, H.; Vincx, M.; Mees, J. (2010). Historical marine fisheries data for Belgium: Data sources, data management and data integration related to the reconstruction of historical time-series of marine fisheries landings for Belgium. Fisheries Centre Working Paper Series, 2010-08. University of British Columbia: Vancouver. 69 pp.
Part of: Fisheries Centre Working Paper Series. University of British Columbia: Vancouver, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Data integration
    Data management
    Fisheries > Marine fisheries
    Forestry > Forestry practices > Logging > Landings
    Records > Historical records
    Statistics > Fishery statistics
    ANE, Belgium [Marine Regions]; ANE, Iceland [Marine Regions]; ANE, North Sea [Marine Regions]

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  • A century of sea fisheries in Belgium, more

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    Time series on landings of marine fisheries in Flanders were reported as early as 1767 (1767-1780; 1836-1906) for herring, salted cod and ‘fresh fish’ (unidentified species). Our literature screening for time-series on landings and the economic value of these landings indicated that structurally embedded reporting in Belgium (Flanders) started in 1929 with an acceptable degree of consistency and continuity ever since. The final target of the present exercise will be to reconstruct time series at the lowest taxonomic level and spatial scale, based on the available systematic and consistent reporting. Thus, the present study details the data-structure and data integration for the final reconstruction exercise. The beginning of structural reporting on fisheries and landings coincided with the period where most states in Europe developed a statistical approach to underpin policy development. Historical data on (value of) landings before 1998 were only available in printed hard copy and none of the data or time-series contained in the reports were available electronically in the public domain. No legal or other data policy restrictions were indicated or applicable. The present exercise demonstrates the feasibility of constructing a standardized and integrated database. By means of this standardization and integration, time series for the period 1929-1999 were covered on a detailed level by species (n = 41), by port of landing (four in Belgium, two in France, and one ‘foreign port’), by fishing area of origin (n = 31). Detailed landings in foreign ports covered the period 1950-1999. The total amount of reported landings covered by the integrated historical fisheries database (‘HiFiDatabase’) over the period 1929-1999 amounts to 3,107,638 metric tonnes, of which 2,830,815 tonnes (91%) were landed in Belgian ports and 256,566 tonnes in ‘foreign ports’, with an additional 20,256 tonnes in Dunkerque and Gravelines (France) during World War II. The total value of these landings amounts to €2,277,999,993 which recalculated to account for inflation represents €6,075,090,365 in 2007 Euro. The most important species in terms of landings were cod and herring (respectively 17% and 16% of total landings). In terms of indexed value, sole (31%) and cod (15%) were the most valuable species. Close to 73% of all landed species originated from five fishing areas: Coastal waters (shallow waters off Belgium, northern France and the Netherlands), the southern North Sea, the areas around Iceland, and the central North Sea. Twenty percent of all landed species originated from the shallow coastal waters. The southern North Sea and the Icelandic waters follow closely with 17% and 16%, respectively. The coastal waters contributed nearly 60% of all landed pelagic species and 55% of all landed molluscs and crustaceans reported for the period 1929-1999. The integrated database allows broadening our historical view of fisheries. It underlines the strong decline in landings since reporting started in Belgium, and allows further analysis by particular species and fishing grounds. The integration of the data also allowed additional quality control, based on visual analysis. The amount of time and effort needed to construct exchangeable formats and quality controlled, integrated time-series based on the currently available sources, provided an indication of why the historical component of marine fisheries is practically absent in ecological science and fisheries management.

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