I first became aware of the ocean as a child, when I spent my summer holidays swimming in the sea and walking on beaches in the west of Ireland. Then at university, I took a course in marine ecology and the enthusiasm of my lecturer for the sea and the creatures that live there inspired me to learn more. I have spent my life working on issues related to the sea.
The most intriguing thing about life in the oceans is its interconnectedness. The sun shines on the plankton, which grow and drift in the ocean currents. The plankton are eaten by other plankton, who are eaten by fish larvae, who, in turn, grow up to be bigger fish – which, when caught by fishermen, end up on our dinner table.
It is the job of the scientists at ICES to try to understand the interconnectedness of life in the ocean and based on this understanding, provide decision makers with the best scientific advice on the sustainable use of our marine resources. ICES gives advice on how much fish can be safely removed from the sea, as well as on several other issues affecting the marine ecosystem, such as what areas of the sea and coastal areas need to be protected and what is the impact of climate change on ocean currents and animal distributions (e.g. plankton, birds, mammals).
In order to have sustainable fish stocks, it is absolutely essential that we have healthy oceans. We cannot have polluted seas and damaged seabed habitats, and expect healthy and sustainably exploited fish stocks. ICES wants to link these two concepts in the minds of the public; in a nutshell, healthy fish stocks require healthy oceans.
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is an intergovernmental organization with 20 member countries around the North Atlantic, North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The goal of ICES is to provide advice based on best available science for decision-makers to make informed choices on the sustainable use of marine resources.