Working Group on Biological Parameters (WGBIOP)
The main objective of the Working Group on Biological Parameters (WGBIOP) is to review the status, issues, developments, and quality assurance of biological parameters for use in assessments and management that are in line with the requirements of end-users. In this final year of the three-year term, WGBIOP operated under challenging circumstances due to COVID-19 measures. The initial action plan was replaced by a more flexible one, where online plenary and subgroup meetings were spread over the year with intersessional work to finalize the proposed deliverables.
WGBIOP continued the review of past exchanges and workshops under the remit of the working group. Since 2019, these calibrations on age, maturity, and larvae identification have been carried out in SmartDots, an online platform for sharing images and facilitating the reading of otoliths, staging of gonads, and identification of early life stages. Developments are underway to include an improved calculation of modal age and error matrices in the SmartDots standard report. WGBIOP investigated ways to incorporate error matrices into assessments and studied the effect of this inclusion together with stock assessors.
Requests for new exchanges and workshops were reviewed, with a focus on stocks to be benchmarked in the coming years. Issue lists were scrutinized, problems identified, and information provided to stock coordinators via regular channels and through the Stock Identification Database (SID).
Despite close cooperation with stock assessors and continued efforts, it has not been possible to further streamline the WGBIOP workflow with the benchmark process. This will be addressed with the Advisory Committee.
The need for validation studies was stressed by the repeated low levels of agreement between readers of some stocks and recurring issues and recommendations to WGBIOP. Lack of resources is the main obstacle. As a first step for measures to prioritize validation studies, WGBIOP identified precision, trueness, and feasibility of validation methods (as well as the urgency for the assessment).
WGBIOP continued investigations into new life-history parameters for integrated assessment and advice in cooperation with end-users (Working Group on Integrative, Physical-biological and Ecosystem Modelling-WGIPEM and Regional Coordination Groups-RCGs). This included a standardization and quality assurance action plan for stomach sampling. Efforts have also been taken to streamline data and workflows across databases and groups.
A step has been taken in the standardization of quality assurance procedures at the regional level. Institute-level overviews of methods and quality assurance protocols used for ageing and maturity are now available. Also, a new method for quality grading was developed, tested, and implemented in SmartDots.
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