ICES Working Group on for the Northwest Atlantic Regional Sea (WGNARS)

By Mike St John

The Working Group on the Northwest Atlantic Regional Sea (WGNARS) helps develop scientific support for integrated ecosystem assessments (IEAs) in the Northwest Atlantic and to support ecosystem approaches to science and management.

This year’s WGNARS meeting took place from 7-10 June 2021, in Halifax, Canada and online. Mike St. John, from MISSION ATLANTIC, participated in the workshop. The meeting started with updates from ongoing international and regional projects in the Northwest Atlantic related to Integrated Ecosystem Assessments. The projects included: Maritimes EBM Framework, Canada, US Ecosystem Science Working Group (CAUSES), Gender-Based Analysis in the Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Region, Fisheries Management and intergenerational justice in the NL region, Quantitative vs Qualitative modelling project, State of the Ecosystem restructure (US mid-Atlantic), MISSION ATLANTIC (EU project), OFI Benthic Ecosystem Mapping (Canada habitat mapping), Eastern Maine Coastal Current Collaborative, Northeast Regional Habitat Assessment.

Several new Western Atlantic project ideas were discussed, including proposed offshore wind farms in the Northeast US and how these can be used as a case study for IEAs; a lobster project focusing on developing conceptual models, in Canada; analytical processes to incorporate ecosystem advice into single-species stock assessment.

The working group discussed the idea of downscaling the IEA process to address local and regional problems, and how to improve the efficiency and accuracy of reporting findings. Furthermore, discussions explored the adaptability of the IEA process to expand on the contexts where IEAs can be useful. Three breakout groups were formed on:

  1. Grand Bank bioeconomic model and qualitative vs qualitative ecosystem modelling
  2. Modelling Tools for IEAs
  3. Structured decision-making (SDM).

Click here for more information on WGNARS and upcoming opportunities