ICES Annual Science Conference 2015

Theme Session C

Ecosystem monitoring in practice
(Co-sponsored by PICES)

Matthias Schaber (Germany)
Sven Gastauer (Australia)
Jack Barth (PICES)
Elena Eriksen (Norway)

​​​​​​Contact conveners​

​​​Traditionally, marine monitoring programmes have focused on particular ecosystem components such as biogeochemical parameters or commercial fish and shellfish species for which stock assessments are carried out as a basis for fisheries management advice. In recent years, the focus of these monitoring programmes has changed to studying the entire marine ecosystem.

Diverse ecosystem components are measured simultaneously to detect changes and monitor key processes, as well as the status of the ecosystem in general. A range of observation methods and gears have been used to cover the many components of the ecosystem - water bottles, plankton nets, pelagic and demersal trawls, grabs and sledges, echo sounders and visual devices, etc. 

Despite the use of modern research vessels, equipment, and methods, there are still limitations. Due to gear avoidance, escapement, vertical distribution, and overlap of organisms, the monitoring of ecosystem processes remains a challenge and there is a need to continue the development of equipment, tools, and observation methods tackling this issue. 

Furthermore, working towards a more holistic approach with improved synoptic coverage of different components at higher temporal and/or spatial resolutions, calls for improved, creative, and alternative use of available resources (e.g. personnel, ship time, instruments, sample storage, commercial data, etc.). These include the usage of alternative research platforms such as FADs, fishing vessels, ferries, buoys, archival tags, remote sensing, etc. to collect auxiliary or primary information on a higher temporal and/or spatial resolution. On some levels, opportunistically collected data can be considered similar to dedicated scientific survey data. In other situations, alternative processing techniques or a combination of sensors have to be developed or applied.

This session invites contributions on marine monitoring with respect to the following topics:

•Methodology: developments in, and the use of, new marine monitoring methodologies, technologies, and platforms, stand-alone or combined with existing techniques, and the use of existing tools in innovative ways

•Survey design: optimization of temporal and spatial coverage, reduction in bias, increase in precision, advantages and drawbacks to the collection of simultaneous or sequential observations and multiple-disciplinary monitoring that ensures high quality of all collected data, acquisition of ecosystem information in situations where no dedicated survey is available​

•Collaboration: planning and organizing international ecosystem monitoring (e.g. financially, logistically), organizing data handling (e.g. from survey to assessment, integrating data from different sources, of different ecosystem components)

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Theme Session C

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