ICES launches series of survey protocols

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has launched a Series of ICES Survey Protocols (SISP).

SISP is an online series of fisheries and ecosystem survey manuals, covering the protocols and procedures used in ICES coordinated fisheries and ecosystem surveys, such as trawl, acoustic, and pelagic surveys.

The launching of the series is said to be another step taken by ICES towards stronger integration of ecosystem considerations in its science and advice programmes, both on fisheries and on environmental matters. Currently ICES coordinated surveys supply data used for fish stock assessments, but is working to develop these surveys further to provide information on other components of the ecosystem, such as marine litter, contaminants, biodiversity, and foodweb structure.

“Dedicated ICES expert groups, such as the Working Group on Integrating Surveys for the Ecosystem Approach (WGISUR), are developing the surveys further to incorporate best practices for overall monitoring of good environmental status”, says Mark Dickey-Collas, ecosystem professional officer at ICES. “Our goal is to develop these surveys in a manner that they provide monitoring information for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), ultimately leading into an integrated ecosystem monitoring programme.”

According to the MSFD, European Union Member States are required to revise their monitoring programmes by mid-2014. To further assist Member States in this process, ICES is, in cooperation with stakeholders such as the Regional Seas Commissions, developing a Strategic Initiative on integrated surveys and monitoring. A white paper on the initiative will be presented at the ICES Council meeting in October.

Manual for the International Bottom Trawl Surveys is the first survey manual published in the series. Other survey manuals will be published in the course of 2013 and beyond. The Series of ICES Survey Protocols is available on the ICES website.

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