Workshop on the Occurrence of VMEs (Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems) and Fishing Activities in EU waters of the Outermost Regions



WKOUTVMEWKOUTVMETrueEllen L. KenchingtonHAPISGellen.kenchington@dfo-mpo.gc.caWorkshop on the Occurrence of VMEs (Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems) and Fishing Activities in EU waters of the Outermost Regions

15-19 April 2024
ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark with online options

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The nine Outermost Regions of the European Union (EU) include French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion Island and Saint-Martin (France), Azores and Madeira (Portugal), and the Canary Islands (Spain). This is the first time ICES has received a request from the EU for these areas to provide a list of areas where vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) are known to occur, or are likely to occur, and on the existing deep-sea fishing areas (ref. (EU)2016/2336) in EU waters of the Outermost Regions. This work is linked, but not limited, to the deep-sea access regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/2336) that has been operationalized for the Northeast Atlantic EU waters.

In this first phase of the work, ICES has been requested to conduct a scoping technical service (review) that WKOUTVME will contribute to. The aim of this review work is to lay the foundations for subsequent requests to ICES to apply identified methods and data that can be used to deliver information on VME locations, and of the fishing footprint for static gears, mobile-contacting gears and a combined footprint in the EEZs of the Outermost Regions.

Workshop focus

The focus of WKOUT​VME is three-fold:

  • To review and report on the knowledge base in each region. Use a participatory approach to review survey and metadata call responses for completeness in mapping/identifying nursery areas, fishing practices, fishing grounds, and locations of VMEs, indicators of VMEs and further VME elements where VMEs are known or likely to occur. Identify further data sources that could be used to complete the knowledge base.
  • To review and report on available methods used in a range of situations and locations to apply FAO guidance for the identification of VMEs. Consider and report on the complementarity of these methods with the current benchmarked approach used by ICES to identify VMEs in the northeast Atlantic.
  • To define and report on analytical frameworks to generate the requested outputs, scenarios and options at a second workshop, and the extent to which these frameworks are applicable in each region.

A data call has been issued to support this work.


Workshop participants with knowledge of fishing, fish, and vulnerable marine ecosystems of the Outermost Regions are especially welcome to join the process, including scientists, fishermen representatives, fishers, managers, and NGOs. Participants are encouraged to attend in person in Copenhagen to facilitate group discussion.

If you are interested in participating please contact Ryan Dunne to register and indicate which region and topic you have the most expertise in, and whether you will be participating in person or online. Deadline for registrations is 1 April 2024.

Note: If the workshop is oversubscribed, ICES reserves the right, in consultation with the workshop Chair, to select the final workshop participants based on their expertise and geographical distribution.​

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