As part of ICES ongoing advancement of its capacity to carry out Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) in its marine areas, members of the ICES/HELCOM Working Group on Integrated Assessments of the Baltic Sea (WGIAB) have this week worked through a number of Terms of Reference aimed at supporting the implementation of the ecosystem approach in the Baltic Sea.
The nature of ecosystem assessments means that all trophic levels of a foodweb need to be acknowledged and addressed as well as the impact of the climate, fisheries, and eutrophication upon them. Set up in 2007, WGIAB has since comprehensively studied and analyzed various Baltic sub-ecosystems, taking into account all such foodweb dynamics alongside management trade-offs, temporal and spatial scales, and key species and processes for sustainability.
In addition to broadening the understanding of the Baltic's ecosystems, WGIAB also develops the tools not only applicable for the Baltic but also for parallel situations in other regional seas. The group functions as an ecosystem level counterpart to related ICES advisory groups such as the Baltic Fisheries Assessment Working Group (WGBFAS), to which is also offers advisory support.
"The group has worked on tool and model development," said Lena Bergström (Sweden), group Co-Chair al alongside Maciej Tomczak (Sweden). "Building on the experiences of previous working group meetings, a large focus this year has been on identifying operational ways forward to implement integrated ecosystem assessments and ecosystems-based fisheries and marine management."
Bergström also talked about the significance of 2013's event, with members from all countries in the Baltic Sea region coming together to convene in Padova (Chioggia), Italy. "Keeping the meeting in the Mediterranean area has also allowed for the exchange of experiences with local scientists and the support of a potential further extension of IEA concepts to other regions," she said.