ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM), which is responsible for translating ICES science into advice on the sustainable use and protection of marine ecosystems, hosts its annual meeting this week at ICES Headquarters in Copenhagen. ACOM ensures that all advice provided by ICES has the same level of quality, transparency, and legitimacy and works with stakeholders to ensure that the advice is understandable and relevant to society.
Some new names have recently joined ACOM. Henn Ojaveer from the Estonian Marine Institute and Eugene Nixon from Ireland have both been appointed as ACOM Vice-Chairs* and Patrick Lynch from NOAA Fisheries in the US has been appointed as chair of the new Fisheries Resources Steering Group**.
We asked them how they became involved with ICES and what they expect in their new roles.
Henn Ojaveer, Estonian Marine Institute, works with various aspects of marine ecosystem ecology, such as the environmental impacts of non-native species and the feeding ecology of pelagic fish. Having initially completed a degree in biology (on bacterioplankton in small Estonian lakes), he found aquatic science and switched to the marine realm. “Partly (but only partly!) influenced by my father who was a fisheries scientist working on herring assessments and who later served as the Estonian national delegate to ICES."
Ojaveer has been a member of ICES Science Committee (SCICOM) for the past seven years and is looking forward to new challenges as ACOM Vice-Chair. “Perhaps the most demanding work will be to develop a new generation of ecosystem overviews and further develop the fisheries overviews to cover all ICES ecoregions."
This is also the most interesting to Ojaveer and he looks forward to incorporating all relevant science into ecosystem advisory products. “There is a growing demand for a broader and more complex view of the ecosystem. This work will involve developing new and innovative advisory products.", he points out “and ICES should use its unique position to deliver this."
As a chemical laboratory technician, Eugene Nixon measured chlorinated contaminants in marine samples, which led to his first interaction with ICES through the Marine Chemistry Working Group. "I have worked on many marine issues since 1980 for the Irish Department of Marine and the Marine Institute, such as marine monitoring and assessment programmes for chemical contaminants in the marine environment and in regulating discharges from marine activities such as aquaculture. Prior to taking up the role of Vice-Chair, I was primarily involved in planning, both marine and terrestrial."
"The breadth of knowledge that exists in ICES and the vigour by which we challenge our science is a stimulating working environment", comments Nixon, "It is fantastic to be a member of a science network that is constantly exploring new things, knowing our science and advice can be used in more ways".
Nixon has served as ACOM Vice-Chair previously and sees great advances over the past decade. “The ICES advisory process is constantly developing. We need to build on these successes and seek opportunities to maximise the value of our existing advisory products to an even broader range of clients, stakeholders, and managers. The ICES community, and the independence and credibility of the science and advice it provides, is a unique service to our member countries and others."
Patrick Lynch, NOAA Fisheries, has recently been appointed as chair of the Fisheries Resources Steering Group (FRSG), a new steering group responsible for guiding and supporting expert groups that work on topics contributing to the management of wild-capture fisheries. His first interaction with ICES was as a postdoctoral researcher presenting at the 2013 Annual Science Conference in Iceland. “I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of ICES science and the collaborative nature within the ICES community. I immediately knew that I wanted to be more involved with ICES and have since participated in all subsequent annual science conferences, joined the Methods Working Group, been appointed as a U.S. alternate to ACOM, and now Chair of the Fisheries Resources Steering Group."
The essence of FRSG is to improve the communication pathway between ICES advisory needs and the science being done to address those needs. As leader of the National Stock Assessment Program in NOAA Fisheries, Lynch works in a similar capacity and is excited to continue this work through a productive collaboration with ICES. “Communication is fundamental in continuing to advance the science that is directly relevant to fisheries management, thereby providing scientific advice that is robust and responsive to evolving needs."
Once the group finds its place within ICES structures and processes, Lynch sees one immediate challenge for ICES advisory services. “Looking forward, the most pertinent issue that I see facing the fisheries advisory process is climate change. Developing scientific advice to guide management decisions in the face of unforeseen system-level changes will be an ongoing issue that warrants continual evaluation of the robustness of advice given predicted changes."
*ACOM is composed of one representative from each of our member countries and a leadership group of a chair and four vice-chairs. An ACOM vice-chair oversees advisory processes and the drafting and reviewing of advice, presents advice to recipients and observers, and contributes to the overall development of ICES advisory approaches.
**The role of a steering group chair is to keep ICES science programme dynamic, internationally relevant, and impactful and to ensure seamless links between ICES science, data, and advice. They engage scientists in ICES Member Countries and beyond by planning meetings and workshops as well as the Annual Science Conference.
Introducing Patrick Lynch, Fisheries Resources Steering Group Chair, Eugene Nixon, ACOM Vice-Chair, and Henn Ojaveer, ACOM Vice-Chair.