ICES Annual Science Conference 2019

Theme session O

Vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs): key structural and functional elements in the deep-sea

Thursday, 12 September
09:00 - 12:00
Room H2
​​​Vulnerable marine ecosystem (VMEs) are some of the most diverse and ecologically important deep-sea ecosystems that provide habitat and nursery areas for multiple associated species. The term, which was used for the first time in UN General Assembly Resolution 61/105 in 2004, is now widely used by scientists, managers and policy makers. VMEs are extremely vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbance and frequently occur in areas of intense fishing activity. Emerging threats for these ecosystems include deep-sea mining and oil and gas exploration and extraction. Industries, managers, and also scientists need to balance the fragile equilibrium between conservation of VMEs and the sustainable use of marine resources. 

During the last two decades, studies on cold-water coral reefs, sponge fields, hydrothermal vents, and other VMEs have 
increased worldwide, for example mapping their occurrence or developing knowledge in their biology and physiological responses. However, VME science is still in its infancy, and many aspects haven´t been addressed yet. This session aims to highlight the current studies on VMEs, identifying key gaps in knowledge and the ongoing science, including the application of new technologies and methodologies to detect, map, define, and assess impacts on VMEs. Further, it looks to explore how Good Environmental Status (GES) could be achieved for VMEs. Topics 
will include:

  • New discoveries and proposals for VMEs, revisiting the guidelines to define and quantify VMEs
  • New tools: techniques, technologies, and modelling to investigate VMEs
  • Impacts on VMEs: do the current management measures guarantee the maintenance of VMEs ecological functioning?
  • Good Environmental Status (GES) and VMEs: how to ​best define indicators and GES for deep-sea habitats​

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Covadonga Orejas (Spain)
Laura Robson (UK)
Patricia Puerta (Spain)
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Theme session O

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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