Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME) in the North-East Atlantic - Public Records (ICES WMS)

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A central portal for data on the distribution and abundance of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), (and organisms considered to be indicators of VMEs) across the North Atlantic has been set up by the Joint ICES/NAFO Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC).  Criteria used to select habitats and indicators for inclusion in the database were those described in the FAO International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas (FAO, 2009).  

The database is comprised of:

  1. 'VME habitats' that are records for which there is unequivocal evidence for a VME, e.g. ROV observations of a coral reef
  2. 'VME indicators' which are records that suggest the presence of a VME with varying degrees of uncertainty. For VME indicators a weighting system of vulnerability and uncertainty is provided as part of the database to aid interpretation

The VME database may be used for many purposes. ICES uses it when providing scientifically-robust advice on the distribution of VMEs and recommending possible management solutions such as bottom fishing closures within North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)​ waters to protect VMEs. 


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