The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is breaking new ground by enhancing its scientific activities in Arctic waters.
The decision was made in Copenhagen at the 100th statutory meeting of the ICES Council, the principal decision and policy-making body of ICES. The council concluded that the Arctic research is a priority for ICES from the perspective of better understanding ecological processes and human impacts in this ecosystem. ICES scientists already contribute to Arctic research and these efforts may be expanded to several other areas ranging from the hydrography and warming of the Arctic Ocean to evaluating the environmental risks of shipping and oil and gas exploitation.
“ICES was focused on the Arctic from the very beginning of its existence, proposing an international study of the Arctic Ocean and the North and the Baltic Seas already in the years leading up to the organization’s creation in 1902”, explains Michael Sinclair, outgoing ICES President. Today, the Arctic offers opportunities for cooperation in several key areas, such as integrated observing systems and ecosystem assessments, survey coordination, and marine spatial planning.
In addition, ICES will be expanding its scientific and advisory roles in aquaculture. Aquaculture is a rapidly growing field in the ICES area, and there is a need for advice on sustainable management approaches.
ICES is also taking a leading role in the development of integrated surveys. These surveys are a cornerstone in applying the ecosystem-based approach in resource management. As part of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), European Union member states are required to establish monitoring programmes by 2014. ICES can significantly contribute to this process through coordinating integrated surveys, ensuring not only cost-effectiveness but also a better integration across sectors.
During the Copenhagen meeting, the Council elected Dr Paul Connolly as the new President for a three-year term (November 2012–October 2015). “There are great opportunities for ICES over the coming years as the demand for marine science and advice increases; our first job will be to renew the ICES strategic plan”, explains Connolly, who is the Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services at the Marine Institute Ireland and has been Ireland’s delegate to ICES since 1999.
During 2005–2008, Connolly chaired the committee tasked with reforming the ICES advisory process. These reforms were adopted by ICES in 2008. Since 2009, Connolly has been the First Vice President of ICES.
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