Working Group on SmartDots Governance (WGSMART; outputs from 2021 meeting)
The Working Group on SmartDots Governance (WGSMART) was established in 2019 with the aim of overseeing and advising on the improvements needed to make SmartDots a fully functional tool for age reading and maturity staging exchanges, workshops and training exercises. In 2020, WGSMART facilitated and supported the further development of SmartDots as a tool for age reading calibration. The overall aim of the aforementioned developments is to improve the quality of the biological data used in the stock assessment and advice process, thus contribute to ICES’s quality assurance framework (QAF).
Improvements to SmartDots are implemented in regular software update releases to address user feedback and to make existing features more user-friendly. Recent additions have included an onscreen measuring tool and otolith edge type descriptor, both of which can be used to support otolith and fish growth studies. In terms of quality assurance, an updated otolith reading quality grading scale was implemented for all age readings, which is also being implemented in the Regional Database & Estimation System (RDBES). WGSMART also proposed and supported the Workshop on use of Ageing and Maturity Staging Error Matrices in Stock Assessment (WKAMEMSA) in 2021, whose main aim was to bring together experts in quality assurance of stock assessment age and maturity data with the assessment model developers, and support an understanding of the importance of incorporating errors in the input data for stock assessment.
Ongoing efforts by WGSMART include upgrading and improving the reporting module r-scripts, user manuals and a series of online YouTube video tutorials for training. WGSMART has also continued to focus on planning for the future development of SmartDots. In 2021, this led to the formulation of a joint request from the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and additional non-EU states to ICES to implement maturity and ichthyoplankton modules in the software. WGSMART envisions the streamlining of SmartDots with other data systems within the ICES community and will continuously work towards this in cooperation with other expert and Regional Coordination Groups.
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