INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENTS Converting our scientific understanding of marine ecosystems into effective advice
ICES INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE EXPLORATION OF THE SEA CIEM CONSEIL INTERNATIONAL POUR Lâ€™EXPLORATION DE LA MER
INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEM ASSESMENTS
What are marine ecosystems? Marine ecosystems are complex structures composed
Defining the boundaries of an ecosystem is a
of animals, plants, micro-organisms, and their
key step in the complex process of developing
physical environments. Human beings are an
ecosystem advice. ICES has developed ecosystem
integral part of these systems. Ecosystems are
overviews that not only describe the different
diverse: they vary in size, from the small rock
ecosystems but also look at trends in ecosystem
pool on the sea shore to the large Arctic
Ocean; they provide different services and are
confronted with different pressures.
disturbances from human activities like pollution,
as changes in climate, oceanography, or
eutrophication, fishing, and aquaculture.
A key focus for ICES is the delivery of Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) for regional seas. This will be a long journey with many challenges to overcome, but the ICES voyage has begun. Ecosystem approach to ocean management Human activity affects ecosystems in many ways
The EA recognizes that human activity in oceans and
and over the last decade marine and maritime
seas needs to be managed in an integrated way in
policies have embraced the ecosystem approach (EA)
order to secure the sustainability of marine ecosystem
as a way to manage human impacts on our seas and
services, e.g. fish, shipping, tourism, and leisure.
oceans. The EA addresses ecological, economic, and societal needs and objectives.
Integrated Ecosystem Assessments ICES uses the EA to develop Ecosystem
To develop IEAs, we need to understand
the relationships between human activities
and marine ecosystems across space and
information on the physical, chemical, and
time, to evaluate the services these systems
provide us with, and to estimate the overall
processes and human activities
taking place within an ecosystem.
pressures exerted.â€ŠThese pressures are many, from fishing to pollution to habitat damage,
IEAs balance diverse objectives and provide the scientific understanding needed to deliver advice that considers the different trade-offs between various policy options.
Photo: Thue T Petersen, www.tfishphoto.com
and their impacts vary.
Photo: Line Reeh, DTU Aqua
The data challenge The development of IEAs requires integrated observation
To ensure that the work of ICES is relevant
manages extensive databases with fisheries,
and responsive to the needs of society and
Collaboration and dialogue
data extending back over a century and is
committed to collaborating with our strategic
in a unique position to meet the data and
partners. Our links to technology and innovation
platforms, industry associations, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and our 20 member countriesâ€™ research institutes ensure that the IEAs we develop meet the needs of our advice recipients.
The ICES mission is to advance the scientific understanding of marine ecosystems and provide information, knowledge, and advice on the sustainable management of human activities affecting, and affected by marine ecosystems. Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) are a key element in delivering our
Ecosystem overviews and regional IEAs highlight our capacity to produce integrated advice for our oceans´ ecosystems – the ultimate
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INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENTS
ICES H. C. Andersens Boulevard 44-46 1553 Copenhagen V Denmark
goal for ICES.
ICES is a bridge between science and policy, providing scientific knowledge and advice to policy makers and managers about the ecological, economic, and social trade-offs between different policy options.