At the recent annual meeting of ICES Council, the COVID-19 pandemic quietly dominated the agenda. For the first time in our 118 year history, delegates participated online from their home countries instead of the traditional meeting at ICES Headquarters Copenhagen.
President Fritz W. Köster and all national delegates were quick to recognize and thank the entire ICES network for persisting with their many activities, from conducting surveys to running expert group meetings to generating advisory products. Köster commented, “Despite the challenging settings and difficulties encountered, the organization has maintained a level of productivity that we are proud of."
One benefit of the COVID-19 disruption appreciated by the network has been less travel. For our member institutes and our entire network, this has resulted in a reduction in both travel costs and environmental footprint as well as enhanced meeting participation. A timely discussion on ICES CO2 footprint was held by Council and a CO2 statement was adopted, to be followed-up through intersessional work, including an examination of how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect ICES work in the short and long-term.
The theme of emission reductions will be addressed further at the upcoming Annual Science Conference (ASC) in 2021. A network session will explore how fisheries, fisheries advice, and fishery science could change in a carbon-neutral world and how ICES as an organization can reduce our own carbon footprint.
The Annual Science Conference, ICES flagship event, will take place in 2021 but due to the uncertain future, the Council could not make a definite decision on how the 2021 ASC will proceed. Keeping a close eye on health and travel recommendations, discussions will continue on whether the event will be a physical meeting with enhanced online participation or only online.
Looking past 2021, two future ASC hosts were announced: Ireland will host the ASC in 2022, with the US hoping to welcome both ICES and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) in 2023 for a joint annual meeting.
ICES and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) currently collaborate in many areas, including climate change and its effects, fisheries, and the Arctic. The Council confirmed that both organizations will work together to address the UN Ocean Decade societal outcomes - addressing knowledge gaps and where our two
organizations can provide the leadership and science needed
for the sustainable development of our ocean. This work will be led by Sissel Rogne, Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and Arran McPherson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
New Bureau members
Bureau is the Executive Committee of the Council. Karin Victorin, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Sweden, Pablo Abaunza, Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Spain, and Paul Connolly, Marine Institute, Ireland were elected as new members of Bureau.
Newly elected Bureau members: Karin Victorin, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Sweden, Pablo Abaunza, Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Spain , and Paul Connolly, Marine Institute, Ireland.