Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away lived a concept. Its name was Integrated Ecosystem Assessments...
OK, that's not exactly how it began, but a fairy tale theme did provide the basis for Phil Levin 's morning plenary lecture (interestingly, as such stories are usually allegories for other ideas rather than being used as allegories themselves). He was on about Integrated Ecosystem Assessments and whether they existed more as a fantastical idea than anything more concrete.
It was an attention-grabbing and humorous take on a subject that has become one of the focus points of the week, integrated ecosystem assessments. 'What is a healthy ecosystem?' should be asked before 'is the ecosystem healthy? ', and to do this scientists (unable to write the fairy tale alone) need to pitch the question to stakeholders. And that's a challenge as people see ecosystems differently.
Some see IEAs as this fantastical Pegasus, he said, but in reality the more basic tools we already have will do, so we should reach for the donkey instead.
See ICES website news for more...
Levin, from NOAA, used an example of eelgrass. Who cares for eelgrass? The public might not on its own, but how about once we start mapping the services that interact around it?
Theme session G entered its third day, with talks on ecosystem indicators and, more so than earlier in the week, uncertainty - a hugely important factor in fish stock assessments and in ecosystem-based approaches.
"It's my first time are the ASC. I'm a participant in theme secession A on zooplankton, and that has been really wonderful to be part of, particularly because this is the first tie we've had the gelatinous zooplankton as part of a theme session at an ASC.
Lena Bergström, Swedish Institute of Agricultural Sciences:"I work with integrated ecosystem assessments so that's definitely been a highlight of the week from my perspective. Integrated ecosystem assessments have really been emphasized at this conference compared of to the ones I've been to before."
Jake: "The thing that's impressed me about this conference is that we're talking about has the word 'integrated' somewhere in the sentence. And compared to even a few years ago, that's new, and it really shows that ICES has not lost its edge."
Robin: "Apart for being able to rub shoulders with people like Jake and get their take on all this, which is really important, what I've been really impressed with is the number of young people speaking up in the discussions with great ideas. So it's not just the grey hairs, it's the young people, who are coming forward and saying 'Well, what about this?'"
At the conference dinner in the evening - a Galician bagpipe-soundtracked stately home ceremony just out of a Coruna - Inside the ASC reprised an earlier theme of the week by catching up with Outstanding Achievement Award winner Bill Karp. He had this to say about his relationship with ICES and this year's conference, perfectly evoking the spirit of the night amongst the party go-ers.
"I've been working with ICES since 1987, and it's been a sort of symbiosis and a great part of my life. And for me I think having these wonderful relationships with people are productive for the science but also really personally rewarding. There are people I've known for 25 years that are as much my friends as they are my colleagues.
When you go to university and work on marine science you learn about ICES, the great people who came through ICES and the impact it made. You never think you're going to be part of the organization.
The theme session I was most interested in this year was the one on the landings obligation. It's a place where there's this interesting intersection between science, policy and industry, and there's turmoil because policies come from the top down and people struggle to try and solve the problem - so there is a lot of creativity and work being done by smart people and you can see it before your eyes."