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Tracking integrated ecosystem assessments in the ICES network: a social network analysis of the ICES expert groups

The advice the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) provides to its member countries is crucial for the sustainable management of shared marine resources, and the conservation of relevant marine ecosystems. In 2014, ICES made a strategic decision to integrate marine and social sciences in a new type of assessment framework called “integrated ecosystem assessments” (IEA) to deliver advice on societal trade-offs between different policy options. The IEA-focused expert groups formed before and after this period now cover all major ecoregions. To track the progression of IEAs in the ICES network over time, we conducted a social network analysis (SNA) on expert group attendance for the years 2015–2019. The IEA-focused expert groups generally ranked lower in the overall ICES network. Our study shows that some IEA-groups become more connected over time, while others decline. We also evaluated the role of workshops in the ICES network, particularly their role in the development of IEA knowledge. Our study shows that workshops play an important role in ICES network connectivity. The study demonstrates how social network analysis can be used to study an organization such as ICES and determine the effectiveness, or impact, of that organizational function.



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