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In Other Words

June 23
Impact factor

​Howard Browman, Editor-in-Chief of ICES Journal of Marine Science (IJMS)​
Howard Browman photo.jpg

The journal impact factor serves as an indicator of the relative importance and influence of a journal in its particular field. Impact factor information is released every year by Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports, which contains citation information for around 11,000 science and social science journals.

The latest impact factor (2016) for the ICES Journal of Marine Science (IJMS) is 2.76. This figure is calculated by adding together the number of citations made in 2016 to articles published in the IJMS during 2014 and 2015 and then dividing the result by the total number of articles published during those two years. The 2016 JiF is an all-time high for IJMS.

The IJMS is currently receiving about 550 submissions per year of which about 30% are accepted for publication.

June 16

Paz Sampedro, member of the Working Group for the Bay of Biscay and the Iberic Waters Ecoregion​ (WGBIE)


‘The probability of one fish being caught is called ‘catchability’. In simple words, if there is a single pass of a trawl net through an area and one tenth of the monkfish is removed, then the catchability of monkfish is 0.1. Several factors may influence catchability, three important ones are the probability of a fish being in the area, the efficiency of the gear, and the probability of one fish present in the area of being caught.

Catchability is a helpful term in fishery science. It is widely employed in the evaluation of stock status, it is the parameter used to calculate the absolute abundance of a stock from abundance indices. Although historically, catchability has been assumed to be constant, it is known that it can increase or decrease over time. New approaches allow incorporating time-varying fishery catchability, which will make it possible to have a more precise evaluation of the stock status.’​

May 19
Fisheries genetics

​Naiara Rodríguez-Ezpeleta of the Working Group on Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Mariculture (WGAGFM) and co-organizer of the EuroMarine Foresight Workshop on the Application on Population Genomics to Fisheries Management.”​


'The genetic information stored in each of the cells of the individuals of each species can provide crucial information for understanding processes that cannot otherwise be studied or provide more cost-effective measurements than traditional methods. 

Species identification can be achieved using barcoding: the amplification of a short variable DNA fragment that, compared against a reference database, is used for taxonomic assignment. This technique is particularly relevant for morphologically similar species (e.g. black and white anglerfish), early developmental stages (eggs and larvae), semi-digested specimens (e.g. stomach contents) or animal pieces (e.g. shark fins).

Stock delineation can be achieved using population genetics, which relies on the analysis of genetic markers that are variable within a single species (microsatellites and SNPs are the most widely used ones). If a large number of these markers are conserved within a group of individuals, it may indicate reproductive isolation​, either due to distance (isolation by distance) or reproductive behavior (homing) for example.

Origin assignment can be achieved by typing on the individual to be assigned a subset of informative markers from the ones identified during the stock delineating process. This is particularly relevant for identifying the origin of a landed catch or to assign individuals to a stock in the case of mixed-stock fisheries (e.g. salmon caught at sea can be assigned back to its river of origin).

Adaptive genetic changes can be identified by studying those markers that present the same variants within individuals that inhabit similar conditions and that are not the result of isolation by distance. (e.g. same genetic markers are responsible for the adaptation to warm temperatures in cod inhabiting the east and west Atlantic).

There are many other fishery assessment questions to which genetics can provide relevant information. Recently, two methods that promise to revolutionize the field are 1) the close-kin mark recapture method, which potentially allows estimating fisheries independent abundances from genetic data and 2) the analysis environmental DNA (eDNA), which is DNA released into the environment in the form of skin, blood, mucus, for example, which can provide information about the species inhabiting a given environment without needing to see or sample them.'

April 07
Marine Spatial Planning

​Jacqueline Tweddle, member of the Working Group for Marine Planning and Coastal Zone Management​ (WGMPCZM)​, along with group chairs​ Andrea Morf and Matt Gubbins


'Marine Spatial Planning is a process for deciding how best to use our marine space. For centuries, the sea has been free and open to everyone, but now there are more demands for different and exclusive uses as well as requirements to ensure we maintain a healthy marine environment.  Marine spatial planning (sometimes referred to as marine or maritime planning or, when close to land, coastal zone management)‎ is a process through which recommendations are made on the use of marine space, allocating space with the goal to balance environmental, societal and economic needs. This negotiation and decision making process is to be open and transparent, engaging with “stakeholders” affected by those decisions. The resulting plans usually consist of several parts: a section showing how the sea is used today and what issues need to be addressed, a general vision on the future use of the sea, and what uses to prioritise where.

‎Often there are gaps in our knowledge about what the optimum use of our marine spaces should be to achieve societal objectives and ensure sustainable uses of our seas. We are in an intensive phase of developing our knowledge and methods to understand the consequences of planning decisions. The ICES Working Group on Marine Planning and Coastal Zone Management is working on the development of knowledge and methods for this purpose - in close collaboration between science, society and policy makers across different disciplines and seas, from the Baltic over the Arctic and the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and beyond.'

March 14

​Silvana Birchenough Chair of the the ​​​Benthos Ecology Working Group (BEWG)​ and the Steering Group on Ecosystem Processes and Dynamics (SSGEDP)​​​​


'The concept of 'benthos is used to refer to organisms or a community of organisms that live on, in, or near the seabed, also known as the benthic zone. Depending on their size, they can be classified into macrobenthos (greater than 1 mm), meiobenthos (less than 1 mm but greater than 0.1 mm) or microbenthos (less than 0.1 mm). There are also different types that can be classified into zoobenthos (all benthic organisms) and phytobenthos (including benthic diatoms and macroalgae or seaweed). 

Benthic organisms are important, as they play a key role in marine ecosystems, helping to deliver many ecosystem goods and services, ranging from biodiversity, remineralization of nutrients, long-term carbon storage and provision of food for high trophic levels. These are just some main activities fueled by the benthic system. There are many more.'

March 06
Fishery-dependent and fishery-independent information

​​​​Mike Armstrong, co-chair of the ​​Benchmark Workshop for Sea Bass (WKBASS)

Mike Armstrong.jpg

'ICES provides advice each year on the state of fish stocks in European waters, as well as options for future fishing opportunities in line with the principles of sustainable fishing. Where does ICES obtain the evidence to support its advice? Fish, invertebrates and their predators are largely out of sight below the water surface and it is clearly impossible to count and measure all the individuals in the population. We must sample the population to find evidence for changes that are taking place. The main sources of data are from the fisheries themselves and from sampling programmes independent of the fisheries.

Fishery-dependent data include mandatory data on catches and fishing activities supplied by fishing skippers, as well as representative sampling of fishing trips to estimate discarded and recreational catches not reported through logbooks. In some fisheries, the trends in quantities caught per unit of fishing effort (e.g. per day) can provide evidence on trends in stock abundance. Sampling on shore and at sea provides information on the size and (where possible) age of individuals in the catches. These data can be used to estimate the annual fishing mortality rate, an indicator of the proportion of the stock removed by fishing during the year which can be compared with values considered sustainable.

Fishery-independent data are collected, for example, from research vessels using trawls, acoustic systems, underwater cameras and planktonic egg samplers to collect data on abundance and composition at stations or transects positioned randomly or systematically across the geographic range of the stock. Many such surveys also provide other data on the ecosystem. Fishery-independent data can be used on their own to provide advice on stock trends, but ICES often includes them with fishery-dependent data in assessments to provide the most accurate estimates of stock trends, stock status and future fishing opportunities.'

September 23
Non-indigenous species and ballast water in Canadian Arctic

​Masters student Pascal Tremblay of the Université du Québec à Rimouski, Canada, exlplains his poster 'Assessment of nonindigenous species introduction risk through ballast water discharge of a domestic ship in the Canadian Arctic'.

 Pascal's co-authors are André Rochon, Gesche Winkler, Kimberly Howland, Nathalie Simard, and Sarah Bailey.

September 23
Aged and children first!

Masters student Stefanie Haase tells us about her Annual Science Conference poster 'Aged and Children first!' about challenges in the development of a new selectivity concept for trawl fisheries.

Stefanie's co-authors are Juan Santos, Annemarie Schütz, Bernd Mieske, and Daniel Stepputtis.

See high quality poster here

September 23
What's on cod's menu?

Nataliia ​Kulatska from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explains her Annual Science Conference poster 'what's on cod's menu?' about the fisheries effects on the interactions between species as well as on their population dynamics and size structure.

Nataliia'a co-authors are: Valerio Bartolino, Håkan Wennhage, Bjarki Elvarsson, and Gunnar Stefansson.

See the poster in high quality here  

June 24

​Kai Myrberg, ​​​Vice-President of ICES Bureau​.

Delegate Finland Kai Myrberg (4).JPG

'Upwelling is a procedure which happens in the sea, where cold and nutrient-rich water comes up from the layers below the surface. In such a case there is enrichment of the biological activity and processes. There are a lot of nutrients which means there are also a lot of fishes to eat the plankton that is available. It couples physical and biological processes in fisheries, so in this respect it's important.'​

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In Other Words is a blog devoted to clarifying some of the important terms and phrases that are crucial to the work we carry out as well as the wider world of marine science.

Each week we'll feature a scientist or expert from one of our working groups, who will explain a term relevant to their efforts In Other Words.

Stay tuned!