ICES core values that focus our work include the statements that "We value marine ecosystems, the sustainable use of their resources, and the protection of the natural environment in all our endeavours" and "We are proactive, responsive and sensitive to the needs of society". These values are also at the heart of ecosystem-based management of all types of human activity, including marine aquaculture.
Marine aquaculture is expanding very rapidly. While we are still debating the ways and extent to which ecosystem based management can be applied to aquaculture, there is some agreement that such an approach is desirable in terms of sustainability. In some respects, we might argue that marine aquaculture in the ICES region is rooted in an ecosystem approach from the onset, as societal values and perceptions have shaped the scope and degree of the industry. Many of the societal concerns have been about potential impacts on the environment, thus having often acted as something of an impediment to further expansion of aquaculture. Socially acceptable sustainability criteria for marine aquaculture that could underpin an ecosystem approach have not yet found consensus. To date, various definitions of an ecosystem approach to aquaculture put emphasis on the following components:
(1) It is applied in a geographically specified area;
(2) It contributes to the sustainability of the ecosystem;
(3) It recognizes the physical, biological, economic, and socio-cultural interactions among the affected aquaculture and non-aquaculture related components of the social-ecological system and
(4) It seeks to optimize benefits among a diverse set of societal goals.
Papers which address any aspect of these topical foci are welcome. Following each set of presentations, time will be allowed for discussion designed to answer the question "Is aquaculture an example of ecosystem based management?" If so, why? If not, then what would need to happen to make it ecosystem based management?"