As legendary explorers like Knud Rasmussen to Roald Amundsen would have testified, the Arctic is a region where even valuable expertise can prove useless without teamwork. This is true in the science, research, and policy landscape as well as the complex physical one of the world's most northerly body of water – the Arctic Ocean.
With collaborative efforts in the region picking up momentum, ICES General Secretary Anne Christine Brusendorff has headed to Girdwood, Alaska this week for a Working Group meeting of the Arctic Council, PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment) to give a presentation and propose potential fields for future scientific cooperation.
Giving an overview of ICES, Brusendorff briefed the attendees on the organization's products – such as ocean acidification and zooplankton reports – that could extend coverage into new ice-free Arctic waters. Further cooperation could see PAME using ICES as a data hub, as is already the case with the group's Arctic Council counterpart AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) and its contaminant statistics.
PAME, which deals with sustainable development and protection of the environment in the Arctic, is one of six Council subdivisions, and the three-day conference is the latest chapter in ICES ongoing effort to build strategic partnerships and address science gaps and needs in the area – a move reflected in the new Strategic Plan 2014-18. On top of this, the Plan identifies developing Integrated Ecosystem Understanding as a key challenge for the coming five years, and PAME and ICES agreed to start exploring ties for the expansion integrated assessments in the Arctic.
Changes in marine ecosystems at the hands of a warming Arctic Ocean and the knock-on distributive shifts of fish stocks within areas under its advisory remit are two main reasons the Arctic is of concern to ICES. Since the region was designated key, ICES has already linked up with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the Sustained Arctic Ocean Observation Network (SAON) as well as with sister association North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), with whom ICES has run a pair of Arctic-oriented workshops. Meanwhile, an ICES application for observer status is awaiting the 2015 ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council.