A joint ICES-NAMMCO workshop aimed at producing a published manual with guidelines for best practices in by-catch monitoring, was convened 28 June - 1 July 2010 at the ICES headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark. Attendance was by invitation, and was limited to 30 persons. The programme has been developed to address all aspects of by-catch monitoring with contributions from experts worldwide. The report is Annex 5 of the 18th report of the Scientific Committee.
The terms of Reference for the workshop were:
1) Review and describe the advantages and disadvantages of existing observation schemes for marine mammals and seabirds;
2) Recommend best practice when establishing and implementing by-catch observation schemes.
The NAMMCO Scientific Committee's 17th plenary meeting that was to be hosted by Norway in the period 19-22 April 2010 in Svalbard. Due to a famous Icelandic volcano, it was rescheduled as a teleconference meeting connecting Norway, Faroe Islands and Greenland in the period 21-23 April.
The reasons for the rescheduling were the closing of most northern European and Nordic countries' air space because of the Icelandic volcanic eruption in April, thus disrupting travel in the period. The meeting however, completed its business and concluded with a report.
Core scientists belonging to the NAMMCO Scientific Committee WG on Marine Mammals and Fisheries Interactions met in Copenhagen on 13-14 March to compile proposals and budgets for a coordinated project. The first phase of the work involved fitting different models to the available data and comparing their projection results. Ideally, in a second stage, the models could each be subjected to common simulation testing for an indication of which might be providing the more reliable results. The report can be found as Annex 3 in the 17th report of the Scientific Committee.
As a backgound for this exercise it might be worth mentioning the following historical requests.
In 2003 the Management Committee agreed that the Scientific Committee should monitor progress made in multispecies modelling and in the collection of input data and decide when enough progress has been made to warrant further efforts in this area. Future meetings should focus on assessing modelling results from the Scenario Barents Sea model and possibly the GADGET-based template models for other areas, if they are developed. The Scientific Committee should also consider the feasibility of connecting the multi-species models with simple economic models at that time.
This request had not been completely addressed when in 2007 the Commission requested the Scientific Committee to review the results of the Icelandic programme on the feeding ecology of minke whales and multi-species modelling as soon as these become available.
As an addition, in 2008, the Commission instructed the Scientific Committee that in addressing the standing requests on ecosystem modelling and marine mammal fisheries interaction, the SC extend the focus to include all areas under NAMMCO jurisdiction. In the light of the distributional shifts seen under T-NASS 2007, the SC should investigate dynamic changes in spatial distribution due to ecosystem changes and functional responses.
The NAMMCO SC Working Group on Assessment met 9-11 March in Copenhagen to deal with minke whales around Iceland, North Atlantic fin whales and West Greenland humpback whales. The report is Annex 4 of the 17th report of the Scientific Committee.
In particular, the following were addressed:
Minke whales: NAMMCO Council requested the Scientific Committee to conduct a full assessment, including long-term sustainability of catches, of common minke whales in the Central North Atlantic once results from the 2009 survey become available. In the meantime the Scientific Committee was requested to assess the short-term (2-5 year) effects of the following total annual catches: 0, 100, 200, 400.
Fin whales: NAMMCO Council requested the Scientific Committee to complete an assessment of fin whales in the North Atlantic and also to include an estimation of sustainable catch levels in the Central North Atlantic.
Humpback whales: NAMMCO Council requested the Scientific Committee to assess the sustainability of yearly catches of 5, 10, 20 humpback whales off West Greenland.