The ICES coordinated monitoring programme in the North Sea
In 1971 ICES established a Working Group to examine the state of pollution in the North Sea. One of the main tasks undertaken by that Working Group was the conduct of a baseline survey of levels of contaminants/pollutants in fish and shellfish taken from the North Sea. This survey was conducted in 1972 and the results were published by the Council in Cooperative Research Report, No.39 (1974). The Working Group, in its report, considered that the results of the baseline survey showed the North Sea was not seriously polluted, and that the only areas where the results gave any justification for monitoring on a continuous basis were the coastal margins and the Southern Bight, Kattegat and Skagerrak areas. Much of the necessary work in these areas was already being conducted/commissioned by national authorities; therefore, rather than initiate a further special international programme, it was decided that a review of existing monitoring programme should be undertaken, with a view to deciding which of these would produce data relevant to an ICES coordinated monitoring effort in the North Sea, and whether or not extra work should be com.missioned in particular areas.
The North Sea Working Group was disbanded in 1974 at the 62nd Statutory Meeting before this review could be completed. However, a new Working Group on Pollution Baseline and Monitoring Studies in the Oslo Commission and ICNAF Areas was formed. This was charged with two main duties: the conduct of a baseline study in that part of the North Atlantic not already surveyed, and the conduct of monitoring in the North Sea area.
The Working Group held its first meeting in January 1975 and the report of this meeting was submitted to the 63rd Statutory Meeting. One of the tasks μndertaken at that meeting was the selection of national monitoring program.mes, the results of which could usefully be used in a coordinated report of North Sea Monitoring Studies in 1974. From an examination of the list of programmes conducted in 1974, the Working Group concluded that there should be an adequate number of results to form a useful report. A condition of selection was that the contaminant/pollutant being monitored should have featured in the original baseline study i.e. been subject to an intercalibration exercise.
The Working Group considered that in the light of interest shown, by several international organisations, in results of monitoring in the North Sea it was important that a report on the results of studies conducted in 1974 should be prepared and submitted to the 1975 Statutory Meeting. They accordingly agreed to call for results of these program.mes, and because of the importance attached to the matter, established a deadline of 30th April 1975 for submjssion of results on the selected programmes. The results received were compiled and assessed and the resulting report was given a preliminary discussion at the 1975 Statutory Meeting.