Stakeholders that request ICES advice gain unique insight to ICES at MIACO 2022


European fishmeal and fish oil producers participated in the  “meeting between ICES, Advisory Councils and other Observers (MIACO)” on 12th-13th January 2022 in Copenhagen.

ICES provides scientific advice and is best known for its annual advice on the maximum sustainable fishing catches, which are used by the EU and coastal states to set annual fishing quotas and TACs. EFFOP has observer status of ICES, which gives us the opportunity to have first-hand information about the advisory process and methodologies used in ICES, in tandem with our constructive feedback on that process and how it can be improved.

A summary of the discussion points presented at the MIACO meeting are outlined below:

Quality control of ICES data and the data profiling tools

The rationale and use of the data profiling tool that ICES operates was explained during the meeting. The data profiling tool, available at ( ) checks and charts the ownership, veracity, and accessibility of data use in ICES advice from outside sources which can be very beneficial  expanding our current data sets on fish stocks where it becomes limited.

Stakeholder’s perspectives and engagement strategy

MIACO was invited to comment on ICES engagement strategy which gives general guidance for the ICES community on how to organize stakeholder engagement, with concrete details and guidance being developed into an implementation plan.

Renewable energy opportunities and challenges

Currently there is a large need to increase offshore installations. This development will affect the marine environment as well as other maritime activities. However, the installations do not only pose challenges, but can offer opportunities, including for protection of habitats and co-location of other activities. MIACO took part in an interactive exercise to build a conceptual model of the challenges faced by managers with the expansion of marine renewable energy facilities with the implications on commercial fishing a main consideration.

Benchmarks and reviews

The discussion panel presented the recent developments on benchmarks and gave an overview of proposed new guidelines. The benchmark process is a critical element in ICES advice to ensure a sound scientific basis as a means to peer-review and incorporate new science (new knowledge, data, analyses, and assessment methods) for use in provision of recurrent advice for fish stocks. MIACO was presented the recent guidelines on benchmarks at ICES with constructive comments made on the pros and cons of their current approach. An updated benchmark process is currently underway for two important fishmeal stocks, capelin and sand eel. MIACO asked in particular about dates for completion for the sandeel benchmark and the panel responded that the aim is to finish by 2023.

Emerging science needs

Emerging science topics were discussed in order for ICES to address possible future advisory needs from stakeholders. The aim was to identify science areas and best ways of supporting their development. MIACO formed a list of common and agreed emerging science topics for the future, including the effect of climate drivers on fish stocks, the potential of new species and the decarbonisation of fishing vessels. Their current science plan can be found here:

What messaging from ICES helps deliver Stakeholder objectives?

MIACO was invited to comment on ICES communications strategy, when considering stakeholders various objectives and specifically what elements of ICES work would benefit from further communication and promotion.

Mixed Fisheries

The style and communication of mixed fisheries advice changed in 2022 in order to make it more understandable for end users. These changes were highlighted to MIACO. Also MIACO was asked to note a planned workshop in 2023 on mixed fisheries, which will be targeted at the needs for managers and decision makers. There are still basic knowledge gaps on how mixed fisheries considerations are used, what is needed that is not yet provided, validity of assumptions made, or how they are communicated. The planned workshop should help to bridge some of these gaps.

Providing advice in 2023

The meeting was updated with information on the work-plan for ICES advice and relevant science initiatives in 2023. The Head of ICES Advice Department explained how the advisory workplan is scheduled based on Expert Group meeting dates. More information about the events can be found here:

In summary It was very a positive experience for EFFOP to attend a physical meeting after the covid restrictions last year. ICES has been making its advice process more and more clear to stakeholders, and in MIACO this was absolutely the case. The open dialogue will improve interaction in the future.

Photos are courtesy of Dr. Mark Dickey-Collas