Data Portals

Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems

Portal to view and download observations of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem (VME) indicators and habitats in the North Atlantic

A central portal for data on the distribution and abundance of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), (and organisms considered to be indicators of VMEs) across the North Atlantic has been set up by the Joint ICES/NAFO Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC).  Criteria used to select habitats and indicators for inclusion in the database were those described in the FAO International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas (FAO, 2009).  

The database is comprised of:

  1. 'VME habitats' that are records for which there is unequivocal evidence for a VME, e.g. ROV observations of a coral reef
  2. 'VME indicators' which are records that suggest the presence of a VME with varying degrees of uncertainty. For VME indicators a weighting system of vulnerability and uncertainty is provided as part of the database to aid interpretation

The VME database may be used for many purposes. ICES uses it when providing scientifically-robust advice on the distribution of VMEs and recommending possible management solutions such as bottom fishing closures within North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)​ waters to protect VMEs. 

Relationship with the FAO VME database

The ICES VME Database differs from the FAO VME database. The ICES VME Database contains observations of VME indicators and habitats throughout the North Atlantic, whereas the FAO database contains records of management measures implemented by Regional Fisheries Bodies throughout the world's oceans.

How to cite

Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME). [Date Accessed]. ICES, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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