AERD hosts Workshop on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems

From August 3 through August 8, the AERD hosted an international workshop on Southern Ocean Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) in La Jolla, CA.  The meeting was chaired Dr. Christopher Jones of the AERD.  The workshop was attended by experts in Southern Ocean benthic invertebrate ecosystems, with a goal of providing scientific advice on topics necessary to reduce uncertainty on the potential for CCAMLR bottom fisheries for causing significant adverse impacts on VMEs.  The topics included:

i)  Habitats and habitat-forming taxonomic groups and rare taxa that are consistent with a VME, including methods for assisting in identifying the extent of habitats based on distributions and densities of habitat-forming taxonomic groups.

(a) Life-history attributes of indicative VME taxa in those VMEs and, as a result, the likely resilience and resistance of those VMEs to bottom fishing impacts; the potential vulnerability of those VMEs to different gear types.
(b) The lowest level of taxonomic resolution necessary to describe taxonomic groups consistent with or indicative of a VME
(c) The likely importance of VME taxa to fish assemblages, and the degree to which fish diversity could be used as indicators of VMEs

(ii) Methods could be used for identifying potential locations of vulnerable taxa

(a) Available data for identifying the location of VMEs
(b) In the absence of direct observations of VMEs, methods for how maps might be developed indicating where these VMEs are likely to be
(c) The degree to which benthic taxa may be limited in their distribution

(iii) Indicators that could be used by fishing vessels to signal when they are fishing on VMEs.

A report of the meeting was completed and adopted on Friday, August 7, 2009. For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, contact Dr. Christopher Jones of the AERD.