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Amongst his other work in the civil service, Herwig promoted the development of a German high seasfishing industry. To this end, in 1880 the first German research vessel was built. This ship, named the President Herwig, was lost in 1898 on the coast of Iceland. Herwig used this event to propose a restructuring of the German high sea fishing fleet, and in particular for social support for the crews of the ships and action to maintain a supply of appropriately trained manpower to the industry. From 1902 until 1908 Herwig was appointed President of the Central Committee for the International Exploration of the Sea, the body that went on to become the modern day International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).