DG Environment is the department within the European Commission responsible for EU policy on the environment and operates under the political leadership of Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.
ICES and the European Union have had a formal Memorandum of Understanding since 1987, providing Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) with annual advice on fishing opportunities.
Speaking about the existing relationship, Anna Cheilari, DG Environment, commented, “ICES has contributed throughout the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) development and implementation process. With this new four years contract, cooperation between ICES and the European Commission, Directorate-General of the Environment is continued and strengthened, helping to protect the marine environment and conserve biodiversity in Europe”.
Future requests are likely to involve further development of the MSFD and operational issues for species and habitats biodiversity, commercial fisheries, reporting and assessing bycatch, foodwebs, seafloor integrity, hydrographic conditions and underwater noise. As the new agreement covers all EU waters, ICES will continue to work with scientists from the Mediterranean and Black seas.
A successful history developing the MSFD
ICES history with DG Environment extends back to the development of the EUs Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). ICES provided support for the strategy, advising first on appropriate ecoregions and then providing potential approaches and guidance on the actual application of the ecosystem approach to management of human activities in the European marine environment.
After the adoption of the MSFD in 2008, ICES, through many task groups and in collaboration with the EUs Joint Research Centre (JRC) and DG Environment, further developed the MSFDs descriptors of Good Environmental Status. This collaboration continued as we advised on the review of the criteria and standards for good environmental status of marine waters, where ICES was been responsible for work related to the review of the descriptors D1 (biodiversity), D3 (fisheries), D4 (foodwebs), D6 (seafloor integrity), and D11 (noise).