The Workshop on Realigning of the Ecosystem Observation Steering Group (WKREO) reviewed the critical task and information requirements of data collectors and data users that contribute to the development of ICES fisheries and ecosystem advice. The information requirements were mapped on to the existing expert group structure to identify gaps, bottlenecks and network com-munication characteristics. There was a high degree of consensus across the WKREO working group participants regarding the necessary tasks, but no clear understanding of which current expert groups are responsible for a number of these tasks. Additionally, this lack of clear struc-ture has led to gaps in collaborative analysis and communication, so the group also considered ways to formalise effective communication flow going forward. WKREO discussed a variety of options that ultimately led to consensus of group responsibilities and information flow that are outlined in a set of new standard ToRs for different groups. Our proposal should facilitate im-provements in the quality of fisheries advice and improve ecosystem science compared to the current network architecture.
The WKREO proposal took a regional approach to data collection and analysis to better match the regional advisory processes compared to the existing methodological-focused data collec-tion, resulting in a realignment of expert groups. Network indicators suggest realignment is qualitatively and quantitatively advantageous, particularly benefiting the ecosystem approach and progressing ICES science. It better supports the development of new science and regional monitoring products through effective sharing of skills and resources, while also providing an important link to regional data collection groups that hold the key to making decisions on future monitoring at the international level.
The issues impacting the flow of data into advice are near universal around the world. Although the organisation and group names may differ, the principles and challenges of what we describe are the same. Countries developing or thinking of (re-)organising workflows could learn a lot about what works and what does not from the ICES experience.
The group specifically identified the following benefits of the new structure:
• Fisheries independent data and information are reviewed on a regional level, resulting in an improved understanding of the regional processes.
• Fisheries independent data are used appropriately, and collections are understood by data users;
• Combining fisheries independent data may lead to a better understanding of ecosystem pro-cesses;
• Could more effectively incorporates fisheries independent surveys (e.g. national surveys) that currently are not used / not available to ICES;
• Improved alignment of fisheries independent data with fish stock assessment groups and integrated ecosystem assessment groups;
• Improved insight of regional changes and patterns by examination across surveys and across data types.
• Improved survey planning and improved efficiency by evaluation of the survey;
• Generation of cross-regional developments, knowledge, expertise as Fisheries Independent Regional Monitoring Groups co-develop linked by approach through IEASG activities;
• Opportunity to incorporate (expertise on) non-fisheries monitoring (e.g. phytoplankton, zo-oplankton, benthos, mammal, birds, etc.) to enhance survey value;
• Theme-specific workshops initiated by the survey coordination groups improve expertise across regions.