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2012 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Annual Science Conference

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Anne Hollowed, Matt Baker, Craig Kastelle, Susanne McDermott, and Stan Kotwicki (RACE) attended the 2012 ICES Annual Science Conference held in Bergen, Norway, 17-21 September 2012. This conference provides a forum for an international community of marine scientists, professionals, stakeholders, and students to gather and share their work. This is carried out through theme-based sessions, which include both oral and poster presentations. The 2012 ICES conference had a diverse program of sessions, with particular focus on aquaculture sustainability and its relationship to wild capture fisheries and ecology of the Arctic in the context of climate change. Sessions also included ecological theory (evaluating limits to ecological resilience and marine habitat connectivity), ecosystem function and dynamics, fisheries assessments (e.g. , survey importance), fisheries management (e.g. , evaluation of overfishing, evolution of management frameworks, and the use of science in marine spatial planning), and fisheries policy (e.g. , traceability of fish products and mitigating fishery discards). The conference also featured plenary lectures by Trevor Branch (Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle), Karin Kroon Boxaspen (Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen), and Carl Folke (Director, Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm) and an invited lecture by Sidney Holt.

Anne Hollowed co-convened the theme session “Subarctic-Arctic Interactions: Ecological Consequences” along with Ken Drinkwater (Norway), Olafur Astthorsson (Iceland), and George Hunt (USA). The theme session provided a forum for scientists to discuss findings from ecological studies focused on the interactions of Subarctic and Arctic marine ecosystems. Exchanges of water masses and their associated flora and fauna strongly link the marine Arctic and the Subarctic. In the Arctic, temperatures have undergone significant warming, and there has been reduced sea ice in recent years. At the same time marked changes at various trophic levels in the ecosystems of these high latitude areas have also been observed. Climate change scenarios indicate that in the future both Subarctic and Arctic regions are likely to experience greater warming and transformation.

The conveners sought papers that improved understanding of how climate variability and change will affect the structure and function of these marine ecosystems in the future, including biogeochemical processes. Papers that improved our knowledge of the role of physical, chemical, and biological fluxes between the Subarctic and the Arctic and the fate of the transported organisms were of particular interest. Papers that covered multiple trophic levels or investigated biophysical coupling were also especially encouraged, as were comparative papers between different Arctic and Subarctic regions.

The session received an excellent response from the scientific community with 27 oral presentations from scientists from eight countries (Canada, France, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Japan, Norway, the Russian Federation, and the United States). The session started with an overview paper showing the importance of climate forced rates of exchange between the Arctic and Subarctic in the Western Atlantic. Subsequent talks highlighted the role of advection and fronts in structuring Arctic and Subarctic ecosystems. Afternoon talks shifted to issues of climate change impacts on the spatial distribution of marine species, fish dependent economies, and ecology of Subarctic and Arctic systems.  The following day several talks focused on lower trophic level responses to climate induced changes in oceanography.   The final talks of the session included several modeling studies that tracked climate change impacts through the foodweb. These studies provided insight into potential direct and indirect effects of shifting environmental conditions on the interactions between Arctic and Subarctic species.

The discussion session focused on the management implications of sub-Arctic and Arctic exchanges. It was recognized that there is a strong need for accurate projections of the implications of climate change on Subarctic-Arctic exchanges to allow managers to develop strategies for sustainable management. Anne Hollowed and Matt Baker gave oral presentations in the theme session “Subarctic-Arctic Interactions: Ecological Consequences. ” Craig Kastelle gave an oral presentation in the session “Beyond Routine Ageing: Otoliths and other Bony Structures as Windows into Fisheries, Fish Ecology, and the Environment. ” Susanne McDermott gave an oral presentation in the joint ICES/PICES session entitled “Multidisciplinary Perspectives in the Use (and Misuse) of Science and Scientific Advice in Marine Spatial Planning. ” Stan Kotwicki gave an oral presentation in the session  “The Contribution of Acoustics-derived Indices for Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management:  Technological and Analytical Challenges and Recent Advances. ” Stan gave another talk in the session ”Consequences of Improved Survey Performance on Assessments and Management Advice? Do Innovations in Survey and Sampling Design and Technology Make Any Difference?” Their abstracts follow.

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