'Marine environment and fisheries – applying the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and environment policy together', held in Brussels today (21 May), has brought together the EU Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and Directorate-General for the Environment (DG ENV) with representatives from ICES and other organizations to look at linkages between commercial fish and shellfish Descriptor 3, the CFP and other MSFD descriptors.
The meeting, also a forum for stakeholder views on areas of cooperation, features discussions and presentations on how wider aspects of marine ecosystems affect and are affected by fisheries. One key fisheries element of the MSFD is laid down in Descriptor 3, which states that populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish should remain within safe biological limits. Part of the agenda entails addressing the state and pressures of other directive descriptors and their interplay with Descriptor 3 and the fish stocks themselves, with the overall objective of Good Environmental Status (GES) for European fisheries. Examples of such interactions include marine litter (Descriptor 10) and foodweb productivity, (Descriptor 4), which can have cumulative effects on fish productivity.
Ecosystem Approach Coordinator at ICES Mark Dickey-Collas emphasized the significance of this type of meeting.
"This workshop is a crucial mechanism by which stakeholders can explore the interface of EU fisheries and marine environmental policy. I see development of the evidence to support these initiatives as a key role for ICES."
The event is the fourth such annual seminar, with the work having evolved over the years to reflect a broader approach that analyses the relationships between the various descriptors. As the journey towards Good Environmental Status across the continent's waters by 2020 under MSFD continues, the Brussels meeting is the latest installment of ICES involvement. Through the guidance of the MSFD Council Steering Group, the organization has played an important role by reviewing descriptors and providing technical advice on MSFD revisions.