In recent years the Scientific Council has recorded an increasing importance on abundance data derived from research surveys, for the fish stock assessments. While there are serious problems with the quality of the catch statistics necessary for assessments, several important stocks assessed by the Scientific Council are under moratoria and are therefore not producing fishery data. In these cases, abundance survey data are the only available reliable source of information on stock status. Observing the urgent need to consider fishery independent methods of stock assessments, the Scientific Council called for a Workshop to review the methods, at its Special Session to be held in conjunction with the 18th Annual Meeting of NAFO.
The Workshop titled 'Assessment of Groundfish Stocks Based on Bottom Trawl Survey Results' with H. Lassen as convener was held during 4–6 September 1996, at Shuvalov Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia. The Workshop was open to the general scientific community, although participation was primarily aimed at the NAFO Scientific Council members.
Considering the hands-on nature of the Workshop, the total number of participants was limited. A total of 39 participants attended from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States of America.