Assessing advice: looking forward to a new year

Each January, ICES meets with its advisory clients and stakeholders to discuss how to meet client demands and improve collaboration.
Published: 30 January 2019

At the recent meeting with ICES Advice recipients (MIRIA) in Copenhagen, representatives from regional fisheries and environmental commissions and ICES member countries gathered to discuss how the organization could better address their requests in the coming year.

Meeting new demands

Mark Dickey-Collas, the new Advisory Committee Chair, discussed the increasing complexity of the evidence base required to inform fisheries and marine environmental management. “We need to adapt our advice to this multifaceted layering of the policy and management landscape, if we are to remain credible and relevant across multiple management objectives."

Many clients, such as North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), no longer just ask for advice on single stock species but also want to have a more complex view of the ecosystem.

“We want to have multispecies advice and we want ecosystem context with climate change built into it", states Darius Campbell, Secretary of NEAFC.

“In the past, we may have sought advice in what was seen as a fairly steady state environment, but things appear to be changing quite rapidly now. Climate change is going to be a major influence over the next 20, 30, 40 years."

Independent voice

This broader understanding requires a wider range of expertise and cooperation, for example ecology, valuation, spatial mapping, and stakeholder facilitation. Campbell continues, “ICES role is valuable as an independent voice of science. The ocean is complicated and different sectors need to talk to each other and work together. ICES need to be able to interact with other bodies apart from the fisheries bodies because we are also interacting with those other bodies; in future, that might mean shipping and mining as well, as those are significant sectors currently or potentially active in the high seas."

The recently published Celtic Seas Fisheries Overview was presented as an example of how ICES is providing mixed fisheries advice to decision-makers.

“ICES is incrementally developing tools and approaches to provide this information but perhaps not rapidly enough to consider the management challenges of spatial closures, temporal shifts, and changes in selectivity" Dickey-Collas stated, “It is therefore important to develop a shared understanding of what clients want, and what ICES can deliver in the short and longer term."

Quality assurance

Per Sandberg, ICES Norwegian delegate, echoes these sentiments: “Dialogue is important, and dialogue is a central feature of MIRIA. ICES can highlight difficult and contentious aspects of preparing scientifically based advice and advice recipients have the possibility to inform the organization of what they feel is important. This helps the organization focus on areas the advice users find important, like various aspects of quality control and the nature and form of ICES advice."

Sandberg noted that ICES has various activities to increase the quality of the advice. “I believe the organization does a good job. At the same time, I think it is important to recognize that some level of uncertainty will probably be a feature of, for example fish stock assessments for a long time. Fisheries managers need to be aware of this and build harvest control rules that are robust, for example by the usual element of max variation in quotas from year to year or other compensatory mechanisms."

All advice requests for 2019, along with the latest advice, can be found on our website.


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The recently published Celtic Seas Fisheries Overview was presented as an examle of how ICES is approaching mixed fisheries advice.

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Assessing advice: looking forward to a new year

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