WGIEAGS works to provide an Ecosystem Overview and identify trends, knowledge gaps and research priorities for the region. The Greenland Sea ICES ecoregion encompasses both open sea and shelf waters along the Eastern coast of Greenland from Cape Farewell in the south to the northern boundary of Kong Frederiks VIII’s Land in the Fram Strait. The region is experiencing change in the form of northward extension of Atlantic waters and freshening of surface waters. Several oceanic fisheries on widely distributed fish species take place in the region. WGIEAGS is focused on assessing the linkages between the physical, chemical and biological oceanographic conditions to the distribution and productivity of fish stocks in the region. The aim for the first meeting was to assemble the available data, report on status and trends, provide the basis for the Ecosystem Overview for the region and identify research and monitoring needs for a future integrated ecosystem assessment.
Information on phytoplankton was mostly achieved from research cruises for inshore and coastal areas and remote sensing for offshore areas, which allowed a rather broad description. Data on zooplankton is also mainly available from sporadic research cruises. In the northern part of the ecoregion, most focus has been on the open Greenland Sea, and the coastal region of Young Sound. In the southern part, Icelandic fishery and zooplankton surveys extend into the ecoregion. Recently the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GNIR) has also collected zooplankton data during their fishery surveys. Historical records of benthos from Greenland waters down to 1000 m depth exists from investigations in late 1900s and early 2000s, however vast areas remain unstudied. In 2015, a program for long-term and large-scale monitoring of marine bottomliving invertebrate fauna were launched in the southern part of the region, which together with seabed mapping allows an initial detection of potential Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. Limited information from fisheries operating with active bottom gears are also available. Knowledge on fisheries and commercially exploited fish species is generally good based on annual scientific surveys and logbooks from the fishery from the past 3-4 decades. Fisheries and surveys on demersal fish species are mainly in the southern part of the ecoregion while pelagic species are surveyed and fished more northerly. Information received on marine mammals is presently limited to seals in the southern part of the ecoregion from various investigations. Data on birds are scarce and derived from various expeditions dating back to the 1990s. Most effort has been carried out in the Northern part of the ecoregion, while little or no data are available from the offshore part of the southern ecoregion.
While data availability in the Greenland Sea is patchy and differ widely across trophic levels, the efforts of WGIEAGS to bring together this information will better elucidate ecological patterns and changes in this ecoregion and help identify gaps in knowledge that can be resolved.
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