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Press release: ICES develops seven robust indicators for understanding the structure and functioning of marine food webs

Copenhagen, 19 June (ICES) – Today, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea released advice to the European Commission on marine food web indicators.
Published: 19 June 2014

​​​These indicators address important functional aspects, such as energy flows and the structure of food webs.

Having an established history of indicator development, ICES was requested to advise on potentially useful food web indicators for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Descriptor 4, as well as on a revision of the large fish indicator (LFI).

Food web indicators are established to ensure that populations of selected food web components occur at abundance levels that are within acceptable ranges and will secure their long term viability. Good Environmental Status (GES) of food webs is achieved when the indicators reach their established thresholds.

ICES food web advice, the first of its kind, comprises four elements:

  • A roadmap on how to develop the indicators
  • An explanation of how the potential indicators consider both the structure and functioning of food webs
  • Seven robust potential food web indicators (four structural and three functional)
  • A review of the LFI in European waters

Trans-Atlantic science

Although today's advice initially benefits the European regional seas commissions, (the Barcelona Convention, the Bucharest Convention, the Helsinki Convention, and the OSPAR Convention), ICES developed the food web indicators with global application in mind, thus upholding its commitment to the implementation of the ecosystem approach in all marine environments.

A significant factor in the production of this advice was the trans-Atlantic collaboration that took place. Working through an ICES workshop (ICES WKFooWI), scientists from Europe and North America cooperated in developing the science that generated the food web indicators.

To view the food web indicator advice, visit ICES website.

Read more about ICES work with the MSFD online.

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Press release: ICES develops seven robust indicators for understanding the structure and functioning of marine food webs

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