Developing and applying greater ecosystem understanding is core to ICES strategic plan. The integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA) groups are the key mechanisms, along with a new benchmark process, through which ICES plans to apply this understanding to management needs. These groups often follow similar lines of research, and the Workshop on Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Methods (WKIDEA) helps them to position their work in a broader context.
The workshop allowed for the exchange of ideas, methodologies, and analytical approaches and identified common problems and the solutions to them.
"A lot of good work has been done already," said Mette Mauritzen, Head of Research at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, Norway and Chair of the Steering Group on Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (SSGIEA) as of January 2017. "It is very interesting to see that over time, there has been a convergence regarding the methods, approaches, and objectives of the groups involved. It seems they are getting very similar, working towards answering the same questions, and steering in the same direction," Mauritzen continued.
Considering the human dimension
Jörn Schmidt from Kiel University and co-chair of the workshop, agreed that the common overall framework was the crucial finding of the network analysis done during the workshop. "We initially had the perception that the approaches were very dissimilar in all different regions, as were the drivers behind each working group. However, during the workshop we have come to realise that the steps we have in common are many. Across the IEA groups, we all want available data, to be able to visualise the data, identify signals within it, and develop models. It is also throughout this network analysis that we can start identifying trade-offs."
Regarding the future work for the IEA groups, Schmidt elaborated: "Our next step will be to identify the broader context and objectives we are going to work with. Some of the ecosystem models are not yet incorporated in all of the IEA groups. In particular, the workshop has specifically scoped for ways to include more explicit consideration of the human dimension. The network models are a good way to improve the advisory process. The main outcome of the workshop will be a guideline."
WKIDEA took place at ICES Secretariat on 11–12 October; their report will be published on 15 November.