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Occasional Publications of the Marine Biological Association No. 22

 

The evaluation of time series: their scientific value and contribution to policy needs.

[Added March 2007]

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Full reference:
Frost, M.T., Jefferson, R. and Hawkins, S.J.. (2007). The evaluation of time series: their scientific value and contribution to policy needs. Occasional Publications. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (22) 94p.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
.In 2000 a Review of Current Marine Observations in relation to present and future needs was undertaken by the Inter-Agency Committee for Marine Science and Technology (IACMST). The Marine Environmental Change Network (MECN) was initiated in 2002 as a direct response to the recommendations of the report. A key part of the current phase of the MECN is to ensure that information from the network is provided to policy makers and other end-users to enable them to produce more accurate assessments of ecosystem state and gain a clearer understanding of factors influencing change in marine ecosystems. The MECN holds workshops on an annual basis, bringing together partners maintaining time-series and long-term datasets as well as end-users interested in outputs from the network. It was decided that the first workshop of the MECN continuation phase should consist of an evaluation of the time series and data sets maintained by partners in the MECN with regard to their ‘fit for purpose' for answering key science questions and informing policy development. This report is based on the outcomes of the workshop. Section one of the report contains a brief introduction to monitoring, time series and long-term datasets. The various terms are defined and the need for MECN type data to complement compliance monitoring programmes is discussed. Outlines are also given of initiatives such as the United Kingdom Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS) and Oceans 2025. Section two contains detailed information for each of the MECN time series / long-term datasets including information on scientific outputs and current objectives. This information is mainly based on the presentations given at the workshop and therefore follows a format whereby the following headings are addressed: Origin of time series including original objectives; current objectives; policy relevance; products (advice, publications, science and society). Section three consists of comments made by the review panel concerning all the time series and the network. Needs or issues highlighted by the panel with regard to the future of long-term datasets and time-series in the UK are shown along with advice and potential solutions where offered. The recommendations are divided into 4 categories; ‘The MECN and end-user requirements'; ‘Procedures & protocols'; ‘Securing data series' and ‘Future developments'. Ever since marine environmental protection issues really came to the fore in the 1960s, it has been recognised that there is a requirement for a suitable evidence base on environmental change in order to support policy and management for UK waters. Section four gives a brief summary of the development of marine policy in the UK along with comments on the availability and necessity of long-term marine observations for the implementation of this policy. Policy relating to three main areas is discussed; Marine Conservation (protecting biodiversity and marine ecosystems); Marine Pollution and Fisheries. The conclusion of this section is that there has always been a specific requirement for information on long-term change in marine ecosystems around the UK in order to address concerns over pollution, fishing and general conservation. It is now imperative that this need is addressed in order for the UK to be able to fulfil its policy commitments and manage marine ecosystems in the light of climate change and other factors.

 


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