The annual meeting of the ICES Working Group on Small Pelagic Fish, their Ecosystems and Climate Impact (WGSPEC), took place 3–5April at the Marine Station of the University of Plymouth (UK), and dealt with how environmental change and human activities are influencing stocks of small pelagic fishes. The topics included natural and human-induced fluctuations in fish stocks in both the Plymouth area and globally, the implications of current harvesting strategies, and approaches to identify and protect the habitats necessary to sustain fisheries resources.
Presenting opportunities to new generations
Organized by the University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the meeting attracted students, early career scientists and established researchers from institutions both local and across Europe, and the Mediterranean region. These included the Sir Alistair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science and the Marine Biological Association.
A key focus for WGSPEC this year was to engage the next generation of marine scientists in current activities, which are relevant for the fisheries and for the marine science community in the North Atlantic and adjacent seas. The meeting began with an introduction to ICES and to other international organizations from co-chair Priscilla Licandro (Plymouth Marine Laboratory), highlighting opportunities for training, funding, and opportunities at ICES available to students and early career researchers.
An enriching experience across expertise levels
"This meeting provided an opportunity to bring together the fisheries science community in Plymouth to facilitate a better understanding of fluctuations in the fisheries resources that form such an important component of the local economy," said Ben Ciotti, Lecturer in Marine Biology and co-organizer of the event. It was a great pleasure to welcome a wide range of participants from Plymouth and overseas. The active participation and energetic interaction across expertise levels, from foundation-year undergraduates to world-leaders in fisheries science, made this a particularly valuable and memorable event."
Co-chair Athanassios Tsikliras, from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece also praised the dynamics of the event: "We were impressed by the turnout, engagement, and enthusiasm of the students. Their interest in the opportunities offered by ICES and in the activities carried out by our working group was rewarding. The lively discussions were challenging and invigorating for both sides. The future of marine science is promising and ICES will certainly benefit from the next generation of scientists."
Donna Dimarchopoulou, a PhD student in fisheries biology and management, at Aristotle University, also benefitted from the event: "Coming from the Mediterranean, I was impressed by the extent of marine research being conducted in Plymouth and across the northeast Atlantic in general. Judging from the students' enthusiastic participation as well as the scientists' supportive involvement, it seems that there are considerable opportunities for a student or young researcher here."
Plymouth Harbour, Fotolia