The pressure to provide scientific advice on the nature and extent of anthropogenic impacts on the benthic environment and the management measures required to address these potential impacts (e.g. aquaculture, fishing, oil and gas, etc.) are ever-increasing. Science advice should be provided within an ecosystem-based framework which takes into account not only the direct impacts on specific species and populations, but also addresses the indirect impacts on the health and nature of the ecosystem. To date, both the USA and Canada have experienced challenges in providing science advice on the aforementioned issues as the appropriate data are not always available. Researchers in both countries have utilized a variety of techniques to collect appropriate data such as qualitative and quantitative photographic data on the conditions of benthic habitats to enhance their ability to provide advice. However, developing the appropriate tools, expertise, and infrastructure is a lengthy process and can be difficult in a financially limited environment. A Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Regional Workshop was convened on 16-17 March 2010 in Sidney, British Columbia to: share experiences related to benthic habitat assessments in the Northeast Pacific; review the present state of knowledge and/or technology; identify gaps; and provide an opportunity to further collaborations between technical experts in the USA and Canada whose work may contribute to the provision of relevant science advice.
The workshop was broken into two sessions: the first session had workshop participants provide presentations on their experiences with respect to data collection technologies, applications used in analyzing the data, and data management. The second session followed a structured discussion format which had participants each respond to questions related to four themes: next steps; improving collaboration; moving interoperability of data, quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) and annotation forward; and modelling and other applications required to estimate benthic habitat quality, suitability and changes over time.
This report summarizes the key results of the two sessions, and provides a road-map for potential next steps.
The workshop was convened and structured around three linked objectives:
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