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ICES: ”Taking the Pulse of the Baltic Sea”

Organisation: ICES-ACOM

Time: 5/31/2010 – 5/31/2012



The International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) commits to design, coordinate implement together with countries around Baltic Sea, and report on the results of a new integrated ecosystem observing system for the Baltic Sea. The design of the new innovative observing system will use the ongoing work of the ICES Baltic Sea Integrated Assessment Working Group and other ICES expect groups that have worked on observing system technology and design, and ecosystem indicators. The design will take account of:

– Objectives of the Baltic Sea Action Plan,
– The EC Marine Strategy Framework Directive and agreements on indicators of Good Environmental Status (GES)
– The requirements of EC Common Fisheries Policy and Data Collection Framework (DCF)
– Scientific work of HELCOM
– Relevant research and monitoring and scientific programs of countries around Baltic Sea including products of BONUS
– Best practices for data management

The design of an ecosystem observing system will be performed by a series of workshops open to all scientists that can contribute to the goals of the system. The workshops will:

– evaluate requirements to meet objectives of an integrated ecosystem observation system for assessment and management
– identify indicators that are suitable for taking the pulse of the Baltic Sea today, and candidates for more advance diagnostics in the future,
– inventory of existing data collection programs that are candidates for inclusion in the system,
– analyze the overlap and redundancies in existing data collection programs,
– identify gaps that need to be filled by additional observations (by type, area, season, intensity),
– optimize the design in light of the information above, recognizing practical constraints (e.g., on budget, area of operation of individual countries, etc.),
– describe data management and information technology requirements,
– outline processes for routine analysis, interpretation and dissemination of results, and
– propose a governance structure for implementing the integrated ecosystem observing system including processes aim at consensus agreement on the “pulse of the Baltic Sea.

The design of an integrated ecosystem observing system will take place during 2010-2012. Since the design will add value by integrating many existing data collection activities, some elements will be implemented immediately. Full implementation will depend on availability of funds.

The objective of the commitment is to provide a scientific basis for monitoring the state of the Baltic Sea that is:

– Rigorous and sound because it is based on the expertise of a large and diverse scientific community from around the Baltic Sea with input from scientists from throughout Europe, North America, and worldwide;
– Credible because it has been subjected to quality assurance including peer review, and because it is provide by a scientific organization that is independent of management, or non-advocacy;
– Authoritative in the eyes of the governments that are responsible for management and policy since it be adopted by the Intergovernmental Organization with regional scientific competency according to a Convention they ratified.

Being authoritative also increases impetus for the system design to be taken into account in future revisions of the Data Collection Framework that supports the CFP and analogous data collection programs that may be instituted to support the MSFD. It should also be taken into account in domestic decisions on funding for scientific investigations of the Baltic Sea.

In carrying out this Commitment, ICES will welcome cooperation with HELCOM, BONUS and other organizations that want to contribute.