Bill Karp, President of ICES, extended a warm welcome to the delegates of ICES member countries who gathered in at ICES Headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 111th Council meeting this week. The Council meeting served as a platform for critical discussions, including strategic areas of engagement for the organization, shedding light on vital subjects such as the Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement (CAOFA) and UN Ocean Decade activities.
Following the publication of the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy in 2023, discussions included the initiation of a revision of ICES Observer Policy, which plays a pivotal role in defining the roles and responsibilities of observers within the organization.
Additionally, the meeting highlighted implementation of the Gender Equality Plan, was updated on ICES strides toward achieving net-zero carbon emissions, and provided insights into the ongoing Business Model Review.
Delegates attended networked at an evening reception hosted by the Polish Embassy, fostering an atmosphere of camaraderie and collaboration.
During the proceedings, the selection of new Vice-Presidents took centre-stage, as three individuals were elected to join ICES Bureau, the executive committee of the Council. Anna Rindorf, Denmark, Liisa Peramaki, Canada, and Gerd Kraus, Germany will each step into the role of Vice-President at the beginning of 2024.
The formation of a new Finance Committee was announced, with Ciaran Kelly, Ireland, Paz Sampedro, Spain, and Christopher Zimmermann, Germany. These new members will play a pivotal role in steering the financial direction of ICES. The Finance Committee is chaired by the Danish delegate Fritz Köster.
As the meeting concluded, President Bill Karp extended his heartfelt gratitude to outgoing members of the Bureau, who have completed their three-year terms as Vice-President. Karin Victorin from Sweden, Pablo Abaunza from Spain, and Paul Connolly from Ireland, each shared their unique experiences during a time of extraordinary challenges and growth within the organization.
Karin Victorin, Sweden, reflected on her time in ICES Bureau as both a challenging and rewarding experience. Her term coincided with a period of exceptional circumstances, marked by the absence of a General Secretary, the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. She also acknowledged the increased workload and financial constraints faced by the organization.
Despite these obstacles, Victorin stressed the importance of diversity and collaboration within ICES. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn and connect with colleagues in the Bureau, the Secretariat, and the broader ICES network. She believes this experience has equipped her to be a more effective Council delegate in the future.
Victorin concluded, "I hope I have been able to contribute to this diversification too and that I have been able to shed some light on what is truly (and sometimes not) in the heads of decision makers for fisheries and the marine environment".
Pablo Abaunza, Spain, also highlighted the richness of his experience in the Bureau, which involved both professional and personal growth. In his reflection, Abaunza stated, "Being part of the Bureau has been a very enriching experience from both points of view: a) from the responsibility of working in an international scientific organization, with many challenges to deal with, and b) from the human and personal aspect as it is a time of intense common work with the members of the Bureau and ICES staff."
Abaunza warmly recommended the experience to all those invested in the future of ICES, emphasizing the value of getting to know ICES from the inside and fostering a sense of connection with colleagues.
Paul Connolly, Ireland, retired from the Marine Institute and ICES in June 2023, shared his thoughts on the major challenges ICES has faced in recent years. Along with the COVID-19 pandemic and the appointment of a new General Secretary, his term saw ICES grapple with increasing demands for scientific advice on a wide range of topics, from offshore renewable energy to marine protected areas and marine spatial planning.
As he bid farewell after over 30 years of service, Connolly noted that ICES remains a vital platform for international cooperation in marine science, the organization is highly relevant in meeting the needs of its member countries, clients and stakeholders, and is driven by a community of dedicated and passionate individuals. "These 'three things' will ensure ICES thrives into the future and remains relevant and strong", Connolly's parting words summarized his optimism for ICES future.
The dedicated service and resilience of these outgoing Bureau members exemplify the commitment of ICES in advancing marine science and international cooperation. As they step down from their roles, ICES expresses its appreciation for their contributions.
A new chapter also begins with the appointment of Colm Lordan from the Marine Institute, Ireland, as the incoming chair of ICES Advisory Committee. He takes over from Mark Dickey-Collas, who served in this role since 2018. Lordan expressed his honor and enthusiasm to lead ACOM and address the ever-accelerating changes and pressures on marine ecosystems.
As Colm Lordan prepares to take office on 1 December 2023, Henn Ojaveer of Estonia will step in as the interim chair of the Advisory Committee, ensuring a seamless transition and continued excellence within ICES.
ICES Member Countries delegates in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Bureau, comprising the President, First Vice-President, and four Vice-Presdidents, acts as the Executive Committee of the Council, and the Finance Committee is responsible for overseeing the organization's financial matters.