The fresh faces of science and advice

Lotte Worsøe Clausen and Simon Jennings arrive at ICES headquarters after their journeys through study and research and onto the paths of advice and science.
Published: 1 March 2017
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Close to coast

Starting their terms as Head of Advisory Support and Science Committee (SCICOM) Chair respectively, Worsøe Clausen and Jennings began their careers early through a proximity to the very thing they would end up specializing in.

"Growing up in the southern part of the west coast of Jutland in Denmark, I was connected to the sea and the human use of this resource. I've always been a 'nature' person and so marine biology seemed quite interesting," explained Worsøe Clausen.

Jennings, hailing from the UK, also had his interest roused early. "Around age four, as I was growing up by the sea on the south coast, I remember vividly the sea 'boiling'​ when the mackerel shoals came inshore in the summer. The image stuck really strongly in my head."   

Putting into practice

Realizing their childhood interests, Jennings later headed north to Scotland for an undergraduate degree in marine biology – as well as a course in diving – before completing his masters at the University of Wales; Worsøe Clausen meanwhile studied in Copenhagen with a stint at the University of California in the USA before returning to her homeland for her masters.

"In the States, the whole marine biology side kicked in. I then started working at DTU-Aqua (at the time the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research, DIFRES), working primarily with herring and biology as interpreted from otoliths before moving more into advice and pelagics in general."

"I started being involved in the annual acoustic survey in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, really enjoying the ship time and actual hands-on fishy work. Getting increasingly involved in advisory work, the wellies were changed to suits; however, handling humans instead of fish didn't make my job any less interesting."

Broadening horizons

In Wales, Jennings was convinced to pursue a research career in marine fisheries science by influential head of department Ray Beverton, a former editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science. He took a PhD in bass population dynamics in collaboration with the CEFAS Lowestoft laboratory, his later employers.

"Ray was actually keen for me to do PhD in life history theory as he knew that was a growing and influential area of science. But because I'd been a bass angler, I decided to pursue bass. It lead to a brilliant few years in south Wales netting bass, doing lab experiments on larval and egg rearing, and learning about population models, but it was a focused practical topic in comparison with the bigger scientific questions that Ray had the insight to understand."​

Jennings had also been doing plenty of diving at this stage. After finishing his PhD, the chance arose to take part in a trip to Ecuador, one of several places where he conducted underwater visual census work on coral reefs. Over the next few years, his studies on reefs and the people dependent upon them in the Indian and Pacific oceans provided plenty of contrast with subsequent work in temperate Atlantic ecosystems.

Into ICES waters

It was the Working Group on Ecosystem Effects (WGECO) – a "real heavy-duty intellectual group where your evidence had to be really robust, but with a nice culture!" – which provided Jennings' porthole to ICES in 2002.

"The group was a really great blend of scientists and advisors. We did a lot of early work on ecosystem-based management. A lot of the requests the group got were going directly into advice. After this experience I picked up more advisory work, particularly on developing indicators and reference points and the effects of fishing on the environment."

Around the same time, ICES formed the Advisory Committee on Ecosystems, which Jennings joined as UK member before being elected Chair, taking him through to 2006. Varied work on marine ecosystems included contributions to groups developing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) ​and defining European marine regions. Between then and the new role, he continued as scientist and advisor at CEFAS, leading many projects on marine ecosystems and their interactions with people and the environment.

Worsøe Clausen began her relationship with ICES in 1999 as a member of the Herring Assessment Working Group for the Area South of 62° N (HAWG), which she later chaired for four years. Her involvement was broad, drawing on her skills to lead workshops on herring management plans and total allowable catch evaluation, age reading, stock identification, and on data needs for assessments and advice (PGDATA). Up until last year, she also chaired the Working Group on Biological Parameters (WGBIOP).

As reflected in the efforts of HAWG, Worsøe Clausen's work on the advisory front has revolved around building participatory research in management plans and deciding on the best methodology for stock assessments (benchmarking). She has been part of several research proje​cts involving NGOs, industry, and policy-makers.

Future outlook

The fact that both Jennings and Worsøe Clausen have straddled science and advice is something that sets them up well in their new positions. Strengthening the two areas separately, whilst further intertwining them, is a challenge they are relishing.

"There's a great opportunity and potential to make science and advice work more closely together," said Worsøe Clausen. 

"I'm looking forward to developing the use of knowledge and science in an operational advice context with the skilled advice team at the Secretariat. It is also important to ensure that research stretches beyond science for use into management. Having worked for several years with advice, I'm looking forward to being in the middle of what I consider the key organization for integrated advice for ecosystem management."

Jennings, meanwhile, will help drive the promotion of science on different fronts, including an advisory one.

"It will be excellent to work closely with the ICES network again and help raise the profile and influence of the science internationally. SCICOM will be seeking to strengthen ICES role and impact as a knowledge provider and to increase the integration of science and advice."

"I foresee challenges in keeping the science programme dynamic and relevant at a time when marine science is evolving rapidly and increasingly globalized. Also, we need to ensure seamless links between science, data, and advice. Meeting these challenges will require a concentrated focus on the purpose of our science."

"The other thing I would like to do is get back some of the 'discovery' feel to the science being done, to capture that excitement, because the sea is still a largely undiscovered arena."​​

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The fresh faces of science and advice

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