BASIN Scientific Meeting - Reykjavik, Iceland
12 - 14 March 2005


Maritime nations face socio-economic and environmental challenges with ongoing crises in fisheries and fisheries management, and clear impacts of global change. Meeting these challenges will require improved, scientific ecosystem-based approaches to conservation of natural resources; coastal zone management; fish stock assessment, management, and regulation; and maintenance of ecosystem health. These in turn are founded on genuine understanding of the dynamics of ocean ecosystems and their response to man's activities and natural climatic variation.

Relevant statements were made by the delegates of the October 2001 Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries, pp. 105-108) who declared that "in an effort to reinforce responsible and sustainable fisheries in the marine ecosystem, we will individually and collectively work on incorporating ecosystem considerations into that management aim" and "we will undertake to identify and describe the structure, components and functioning of relevant marine ecosystems, diet composition, food webs, species interactions and predator-prey relationships, the role of habitat and the biological, physical and oceanographic factors affecting ecosystem stability and resilience".

Beginning in the 1990's and continuing to the present day, nationally-funded programs have been and are being conducted that seek to understand the effects of climate variability on ocean ecosystems, in order to better predict the impacts of global change in regions of national interest. In the North Atlantic, many of these programs focused upon understanding the dynamics of key zooplankton and fish species at local to regional scales, with special emphasis on their coupling to the physical environment and other components of the ecosystem. This research has taken place in regions from the Georges Bank, Scotian Shelf, Labrador Sea, Irminger Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea through programs like GLOBEC (US, Canada, UK), ICES, Mare Cognitum, TASC, and others. Shelf- and basin-scale circulation models have advanced to realistic stages and there is an opportunity to integrate and synthesize these efforts to define next steps of research, increase our overall understanding of the likely governing mechanisms, and improve our ability to forecast and manage marine resources.

One outcome of the studies has been the realization that the dominant physical forcing across the North Atlantic basin is the large-scale atmospheric circulation, i.e., the spatial scale of biological events is often larger than national or regional waters. Clearly, the most efficient and effective means of linking regional-scale studies into ocean basin-scale understanding is the integration of data sets and modeling efforts in order to understand the mechanisms responsible for the observed changes in physical and biological ocean properties and to predict the consequences of global change. An important point here is that the relationships cannot be used to imply causality. We lack the basic insights about the ecological mechanisms that may give rise to these relationships.

We are now in a position to reap the rewards of more than ten years of intensive, regional-scale, oceanographic research field programs across the North Atlantic. In order to take full advantage of the enormous investment of effort, expertise, and funding, the results of these regional studies should feed into a strategically designed and carefully implemented ocean basin-scale program of observations and models.

The specific objectives of the BASIN workshop include:

Workshop Steering Committee

A workshop steering committee has been established consisting of:

Olafur S. Astthorsson - Iceland
Francois Carlotti - France
Dale Haidvogel - USA
Roger Harris - UK
Mike St. John - Germany
Cisco Werner - USA
Peter Wiebe - USA
Brad deYoung - Canada

The workshop will be a mix of plenary talks by invited speakers, working group sessions, and plenary discussion sessions.