Tremendous advances in oceanographic observing and modelling systems over the last decade have led to dramatic improvements in our ability to predict the ocean; skillful annual and multi-annual forecasts are now a reality in places like the North Atlantic. However, the logical next step of translating these predictions of the physical environment into predictions about biological outcomes and incorporating them into advice remains just a dream: only 1-2% percent of stocks today have any form of environmental information incorporated into their management procedures. Nevertheless, exploiting this predictive skill to aid in the management of marine resources is emerging as one of the new challenges in marine science and can be seen as a key prerequisite for developing ecosystem-based management of marine systems.
WGS2D aims to take up this challenge. While research has historically focused on recruitment, many other biological responses with management relevance, such as spatial distributions, growth and the timing of key events, are also tightly linked to the physical environment and therefore potentially predictable. The group will identify these more achievable and predictable biological variables and use them to produce ecological forecast products for applications in advice-generation within the ICES area.
The group will also harness the momentum developing in this research area. Theme Session I to be held at the 2016 ICES Annual Science Conference (ASC), entitled "Seasonal-to-decadal prediction of marine ecosystems: opportunities, approaches, and applications" has been well received within the ICES community. A workshop will be held this August – co-sponsored by CLIVAR, PICES, and ICES – will look at the closely related theme of ENSO-driven biological forecasts with the intention of developing a sister PICES working group .
The first meeting of the working group is going to take place on 12-16 June 2017, ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark.