The first meeting of the ICES Study Group on Information Needs for Coastal Zone Management (SGINC) was held in Esporles, Mallorca, Spain, 5–7 May 2003 with 15 participants from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The Chair, J. Stottrup (Denmark), reviewed the background for the establishment of this Study Group. Many fisheries are dependent on coastal ecosystems, which function as areas for feeding and spawning and as nursery grounds. The production and utilisation of these marine, renewable resources cannot be sustained where the functional integrity of coastal systems is degraded. There is, however, a rapidly growing pressure on the coastal zone and evidence of increasing degradation of coastal waters around the globe due to a wide range of human activities. Examples are habitat alteration, eutrophication, toxic pollution and overfishing. Conservation of healthy and well functioning coastal ecosystems, to provide both goods and services to humanity in the future, calls for new sustainable management strategies. ICES addresses today many of the issues of biodiversity and marine habitat primarily within the realms of the Marine Habitat Committee, but also in other committees. Thus, many of the issues are represented in Working Group activities working towards a specific goal. The challenge still remains to compile all this knowledge and development of tools in a holistic manner in order to provide a working platform for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). In order to maintain and improve the quality of ICES advice, the specific requirements for scientific advice in support of client initiatives on ICZM need to be evaluated. These requirements will provide a framework for the ICES advice. Thus, this task should be considered of very high priority. The advice generated from this Study Group will contribute to the goal stated by the Marine Habitat Committee to “Develop procedures for integrated coastal zone management”.