ICES Viewpoints: accelerating applications of science

The risk associated with vessel biofouling is the subject of the first ICES viewpoint release.
Published: 11 January 2019

​​​​​​​​​Viewpoints are a new type of ICES product. They highlight our capacity to provide impartial evidence-based analyses of emerging topics related to the state and sustainable use of the seas and oceans. As unsolicited advice, viewpoints allow expert group to draw attention to the implications of new knowledge for society and the management of marine activities.

Mark Tasker, former ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM) Vice-Chair, who played an instrumental role in the development of the viewpoints, is confident that this new product will raise awareness of opportunities to apply ICES science “ICES Viewpoints will showcase the breadth and depth of ICES capacity to provide independent world-class advice in areas where ICES is not normally asked questions. We hope that this might trigger management authorities to ask for further advice in more diverse areas of marine science."

To provide a thorough and effective review of the underlying science and data, and to ensure they are impartial, viewpoints are developed in much the same way as ICES advice. Once a topic is identified as being of potential importance to managers and society, a background science document is prepared by our expert group network which is then peer-reviewed. Based on this, an advice drafting group is convened to draft​ a viewpoint which then needs to be reviewed and signed-off by ACOM. This process guarantees that viewpoints receive the same levels of quality control as ICES advice.

Vessel biofouling

The first ICES Viewpoint concerns vessel biof​ouling​ and was developed by members of ICES/IOC/IMO Working Group on Ballast and Other Ship Vectors (WGBOSV) and the Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms (WGITMO). Sarah Bailey, chair of Human Activities, Pressures, and Impacts Steering Group explains that the expert groups were motivated by an awareness of biofouling as an important global vector of marine non-native species invasions and the need to share their growing scientific understanding of ways to address the threat. Bella Galil, co-editor of the viewpoint background document and a member of both WGBOSV and WGITMO, continues in the same sentiment, “Scientists observe and document environmental changes before widespread negative impacts occur, often before it is known that advice is needed". Galil maintains that, “recognizing and incorporating relevant science when developing environmental policy and practice is extremely important for effective management."

In 2011, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species. Bailey and Galil feel that the newly released ICES viewpoint provides more detailed recommendations than the 2011 guidelines as well as suggesting novel approaches to manage biofouling risk. “The release of this viewpoint is timely," notes Bailey, “as the international guidelines will come under review by the IMO in 2019."

Bailey and Galil also believe that viewpoints will stimulate further advice requests. “The two-way exchange of knowledge between scientists and users of the science is key to producing salient and credible evidence to advance management. Through the development of products such as viewpoints, ICES can highlight the available science and accelerate its application."

ICES Viewpoin​t: Biofouling on vessels – what is the risk and what might be done about it?​ and the supporting report, ICES Viewpoint background document: Evaluating and mitigating introduction of marine non-native species via vessel biofouling, are now available on ICES website.

The background document for this viewpoint was developed by Bella Galil (Israel), Cynthia McKenzie (Canada), Sarah Bailey (Canada), Marnie Campbell (Australia/New Zealand), Ian Davidson (US), Lisa Drake (US), Chad Hewitt (Australia/New Zealand), Anna Occhipinti-Ambrogi (Italy), and Richard Piola (Australia).​

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​Mussels overgrown by Didemnum vexillum.
The mussels are New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel, Perna canaliculus, a mytilid of economic importance referred to in the viewpoint background document. Photo: Dr Ashley Coutts, Biofouling Solutions.

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ICES Viewpoints: accelerating applications of science

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