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Quality of waterways


Electric fishing used to monitor fish populations

The context:

The Water Framework Directive defines a policy for the management and protection of waters per river basin district, EU-wide. This directive sets objectives for the preservation and restoration of the condition of underground and surface water, freshwater and coastal waters. Within this framework, several methods for monitoring and studying living organisms have been developed, including the analysis of bio-indicators such as fish.

The request:

The French Biodiversity Agency (AFB) is responsible for much of the fishing in waterways aimed at catching fish that will be studied to assess the quality of an aquatic environment. For this, the electric fishing method is used for stunning the fish for the time it takes to catch them in a net and place them in a tank. The species captured are then identified, counted, measured and weighed before being released.

The AFB is progressively outsourcing this type of fishing to other structures. With the goal of controlling the quality of the fishing and, by extension, the quality of the collected data, it has chosen the path of accreditation.

Our approach:

The exchanges between the AFB and Cofrac began in early 2017. During the preparatory work, the AFB's request was assessed and its scope defined, in particular with regard to its specific characteristics: an exclusively outdoor activity; differences between fishing in lakes and in rivers; organisational constraints in the planning of assessments over a limited period of the year; etc.
Cofrac was then able to confirm to the AFB the possibility of introducing accreditation for electric fishing in waterways according to standard ISO/IEC 17025. The technical standards framing this practice (XP T 90-383 and NF EN 14011) served as the basis of development for this new accreditation.

The conclusion:

In early December 2017, Cofrac qualified several AFB agents as technical experts.
The Chemicals-Environment pole of the Laboratories division has, since then, been ready to review the accreditation applications for this new field of competence.

« By the end of 2017, the analysis methods for most bio-indicators were covered by accreditation, except for fish. This is now a done deal, with the introduction of accreditation for monitoring fish populations in waterways, by means of electric fishing. »

Virginie Balot, Accreditation manager, Laboratories division.

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