Although the registration for the conference doesn't open until March, authors are being encouraged to put forward their contributions early, both for paper (oral) and poster presentations, before the deadline of 19 April. Each submitted abstract will be assessed according to its scientific merit as well as its relevance to the theme session under which it is entered.
Of the 18 theme sessions, there are four of particular note this year. Session A (marine litter), will look at the harmful effects of artificial waste in the oceans and the effect on marine environments and their respective inhabitants. From the seabed up to the coastline, man-made debris is in danger of accentuating the strain systems are already under from overfishing and other human impacts, and marine litter is also one of the descriptors of Good Environmental Status (GES) under the European Commission's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
The concept of sustainability strikes a chord with more or less everyone in today's world, but the word has different meanings in different circles. In terms of fisheries management, it has particular connotations to the concept of maximum sustainable yield, which has become the reference for European fisheries management under the Common Fisheries Policy. With most ICES stocks now managed according to harvest control rules (HCRs), key points raised during this session – Session H – will include the expansion of HCRs to include environmental, economic, and social sustainability as well as the further definition of sustainability objectives.
Co-convenor Carmen Fernández comments, "This session provides a forum for the presentation of results on sustainability and harvest control rules, which are considered to be a key element going forward and where ICES involvement has been strong in the past and will continue to be in the future."
The responses of living marine organisms to the effects of environmental fluctuations and longer-term climate change will be at the heart of Session B, meanwhile. Managers of these resources face many challenges in considering environmental change in their management formulations. Essentially, there is a great need for scrutiny of both past and present data on ecosystem dynamics and responses to change in order to assist fisheries managers in their provision of effective policy action.
Although well established in some countries, recreational fishery surveys are a relatively recent introduction to European science circles, which means that we do not have standards set in stone for producing management advice based on data for fish stocks exploited for leisure. Session R's focal point is recreational fishery surveys, and the forum will see discussion take place on the nature and comparability of national survey designs.
In addition to the eighteen theme sessions, the ASC will host three keynote speakers. As ICES Science Committee (SCICOM) Chair Manuel Barange introduces them: "We have Professor Doug Butterworth from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, a leading expert in the development of management procedures for marine fisheries; Professor Richard Feely from the NOAA PMEL laboratory in the USA, a ground-breaking scientist in the field of ocean carbon cycling and ocean acidification; and Professor Ragnar Arnason from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, a renowned economist in the area of fisheries management."
ASC 2013 runs from 23 – 27 September at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre on the Reykjavik waterfront and will see 600-700 scientists, stakeholders, and students from around the world congregate to exhibit and deliberate over new aspects of marine science, which this year will fall under one of the five umbrella topics: Implementation of the ecosystem approach, Impacts of climate and climate change, Developments in fisheries management, Effects of multiple impacts on marine ecosystems, and the Ecological dynamics of North Atlantic ecosystems.
© Skarphéðinn Þráinsson