Changing guard

Joanne Morgan and Dorleta Garcia appointed as new ACOM vice-chairs.
Published: 10 December 2021

​​​​ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM) is responsible for producing scientific advice on the marine ecosystem for governments and international bodies that manage the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas.

Along with a national representative from each ICES member country on ACOM​, overseeing the advice production of ICES advice is the ACOM Chair and four vice-chairs. 

Managing advisory processes and management strategy evaluations​, chairing advice drafting and review groups, and presenting ICES advice to both regional advisory councils and governing authorities ​ensures that ACOM vice-chairs have both an active and visible leadership role within the committee and community. 

Fisheries advice

Two of the four ACOM vice-chairs focus on fisheries advice in an ecosystem-based context. These roles have been covered by Ghislain Chouinard​ (formerly Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, 2016-2021) and Col​m Lordan (Marine Institute, Ireland, 2018-2021) who have been pivotal in the strategic development of ICES advice, playing significant roles in communicating ICES advice.

Both vice-chairs finish their terms at the end of 2021 and ICES thanks Lordan and Chouinard for their fantastic contributions to the organization. "It has been an honour for me to work for and represent ICES over these years", comments Chouinard, "I will miss all of the people that I interacted with and who supported me in relation to the advice including the staff in ICES Secretariat, ACOM leadership and ACOM, the working group chairs and scientists involved in the production of the advice and the stakeholders". At the recent ACOM meeting, ACOM Chair Mark Dickey-Collas thanked them both for their contributions, dedicated and commitment to providing high quality, and understandable fisheries advice.

Waiting in the wings

Standing by, ready to tackle the role of ACOM vice-chair are Dorleta Garcia, Spain and Joanne Morgan, Canada.

Dorleta Garcia, senior researcher at AZTI​, Spain, first became involved with ICES almost 20 years ago when, in 2004, she attended an expert group meeting about length structured models. “It was a very​ interesting meeting for a newcomer and I met many engaging people from European and international institutes". Since then, Garcia has worked with various groups, mainly focused on stock assessment, mixed-fisheries advice, and management strategy evaluation. She has reviewed stocks assessments and management strategy evaluations as well as teaching an ICES training course on FLBEIA, a bio-economic simulation model she helped develop at AZTI. "We started using FLBEIA to provide mixed-fisheries considerations in Iberian Waters in 2018 and this year I’ve chaired an inter benchmark to move from Fcube to FLBEIA in Celtic Sea and North Sea". This solid background combined with her experience as coordinator of the northern hake stock assessment and Bay of Biscay mixed-fisheries assessment, means that she has a great understanding of working within the advice production process. 

"Scientifically, it is going to be exciting and challenging to look​ at the work developed by ICES expert groups and how to best use it to improve the advisory process, especially having ecosystem-based fisheries management as a long-term goal.
We are moving from single stock advice to ecosystem-based fisheries management and, while ICES already provides mixed-fisheries considerations, there is general concern about including ecosystem considerations in advice but things are changing, new approaches are already there".

Over the next decade, Garcia envisages significant changes within the advisory process. "Stock assessment models will include environmental variables, ecosystem considerations will be taken into account in the calculation of biological reference points, and adaptive advice will be required to cope with changes in the ecosystem. ICES Transparent Assessment Framework (TAF) will make a difference in this regard, so we will need to pay attention to training needs. The era of Big Data will also bring changes: the way data is collected will change and we will have access to much more data and more detailed, making the spatial dimension more relevant in stock assessment and advice."  

Stepping into this role will also bring exciting challenges says Garcia. "There are so many expert groups within ICES carrying out interesting work that I have previously been uanable to follow. Now, I will have to and I am looking forward to learning a lot! Meeting new people and getting used to working with them, leading meetings, interaction with ICES clients…my perspective will change from being the advice provider for one stock or case study to a leading perspective which needs to ensure coherence among stocks and take into account client's requirements. 

As a pragmatic pers​on, Garcia notes that her aim will be to work towards improving the advice in the short term with long-term goals in mind. "This is something that Colm has advised, focus on the important and essential things in the first year, because there is a lot to do and to learn, and then start to open up new horizons".

"Above all", Garcia says, "I will bring enthusiasm". 

Returning to ICES

Joining Garcia is Joanne Morgan, former Research scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada​. Morgan's history with ICES also covers most of her career. "I have been a member of study groups, reviewed and chaired benchmarks, co-organized an Annual Science Conference theme session, and published a number of papers in ICES Journal of Marine Science. But my main involvement has been through ACOM as Canadian member, first as alternate (2009-2014) and then as full member (2014-2020)."

Morgan brings 30 years of experience in research, stock assessment, and provision of advice on demers​al fish stocks at the national (Canada) and international (Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization​) level.  This includes the presentation and explanation of advice to fisheries managers and the public. 

"I hope that this experience will help me in my new leadership role. My previous experience on ACOM will also be invaluable in this new role.  I also bring the knowledge that I have gained in my research on the ecology and productivity of fish populations, which will give me much needed background as ICES continues its move towards and ecosystem approach."

Morgan is delighted to work with ACOM members, expert group members, and ICES Secretariat again. "It is the people that make ICES and I am looking forward to renewing old relationships and making new ones. I have a great interest in the work of ICES and it will be fun to be involved again."

There will be plently of work ahead though. "I will need to learn how ICES deals with its clients and stakeholders. I will have been retired for almost two years by the time I take on the role of vice-chair and will need to get myself back up to speed with developments within ICES. Contributing to maintaining ICES position at the forefront of the provision of advice in the fisheries world will be challenging."  

A further challenge Morgan is thinking about is climate change. "Fisheries management is going to have to adapt to changing climate, resulting in changing distribution and productivity of fish populations. There is a need to accept and understand the implications of ecosystem based and climate change informed advice." The move towards this is under way. "ICES has been working towards the ecosystem approach and towards understanding the implications for climate change on advice. We must continue to build the scientific foundations that allow the production of such advice in a form that fisheries management is able to implement and continue to have dialogue with fisheries managers about its implications."

Morgan has learnt a lot from the outgoing vice-chairs. "Both Ghislain and Colm were dedicated leaders.  From them, I learned the importance of encouraging ACOM members to be fully involved in the work and in really listening to their input. They also showed how vice-chairs with complimentary skills can be an important asset. I hope to be able to continue to seek their advice once they have left their roles."

Congratulations to Dorleta Garcia and Joanne Morgan on their new appointments and best of luck to Colm Lordan and Ghislain Chouinard in their new endeavors.

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Incoming ACOM vice-chairs: Dorleta Garcia, Spain and Joanne Morgan, Canada both step into roles that focus on fisheries advice in January 2022.

What is an ACOM vice-chair?
Our Advisory Committee (ACOM) translates ICES science into advice on the sustainable use and protection of marine ecosystems. ACOM comprises one representative from each of our member countries, led by the ACOM Chair and four vice-chairs. Vice-chairs are involved in the development and oversight of ICES advisory processes and frameworks and are a key link between the our network of scientists and ICES Secretariat​. In terms of roles, two vice-chairs focus exclusively on fisheries issues.
Joanne Morgan (Canada) and Dorleta Garcia (Spain) will take over as the ACOM vice-chairs with a focus on fisheries in January 2022, while Henn Ojaveer and Eugene Nixon remain as vice-chairs overseeing wider ecosystem scientific advice.
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Changing guard

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