ICES NAFO Joint Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC)_Republished.pdf (4.18 MB)
ICES NAFO Joint Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC)
reportposted on 2020-10-06, 00:00 authored by ICESICES
The joint ICES/NAFO Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC) collates new informationon the distribution of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) for use in annual ICES advisoryprocesses and the development of new methods/techniques to further our understandingof deep-sea ecosystems, and further suggests novel management tools to ensure human activitiesdo not adversely affect them.This year, a total of 4609 new presence records and 181 absence records, were submitted throughthe ICES VME data call in 2020 and were included within the ICES VME database. This informationwas collated and mapped by WGDEC, to support ICES in providing advice on the distributionof VMEs in the North Atlantic. All presence records from the VME database were presentedas outputs from the VME weighting system, showing the likelihood of VMEs being encounteredon the seabed along with an associated confidence assessment. VMS data fromNEAFC was analysed by the Working Group on Spatial Fisheries Data (WGSFD), and outputswere used by WGDEC to assess whether fishing activity was occurring in the vicinity of VMEsin the NEAFC Convention Area, to support ICES advice.Another objective this year was to further develop approaches for the inclusion of absence dataand data from the OSPAR habitats database, into the ICES VME database. Absence data wouldadd value to development of predictive habitat models for VMEs. However, some challengeswith collection of absence data include the survey method used and associated spatial scales,where different approaches would mean data were not comparable. Furthermore, absence datashould not be confused with ‘missing data’, which is particularly prudent for the deep sea wherelimited surveys have taken place. A series of criteria to be fulfilled for any submissions of VMEabsence data to the VME database were identified by the group.Methods to bring OSPAR records into the ICES VME database have been developed. However,the need to quality assure OSPAR data before it is transferred to the database is vital to avoidduplication of records already in the VME database. Additionally, further work needs to be doneto encourage data providers to submit records to both the ICES VME and OSPAR databases toavoid the need for annual exchanges of data between the two.Due to restrictions of working remotely this year, further testing on the use of predictive habitatmodels for the provision of information on potential VME presence was not undertaken. However,WGDEC agreed that an intersessional benchmark workshop prior to WGDEC 2021 wouldprovide a more effective forum to complete this work, with the aim of developing a set of criteria,against which new and existing models will be reviewed to determine appropriate standards fortheir use for future ICES advice.A final objective this year was to finalise the proposed changes to the list of VME habitats andrepresentative taxa, for submission to the European Commission. Work undertaken duringWGDEC 2019 and an intersessional sub-group was built upon, and proposed taxa were evaluatedagainst the FAO criteria for the prevention of significant adverse impacts on VMEs andprotection of the marine biodiversity. Proposals were drafted for hydrothermal vents and coldseeps, cold-water coral reefs, coral gardens, deep-sea sponge aggregations and sea pen fields.This list will be finalised intersessionally to include tube-dwelling anemone aggregations,stalked crinoid aggregations, xenophyophore aggregations and bryozoan patches.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee