Workshop 2 on Age Reading of North Sea plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) (WKARP2; outputs from 2021 meeting)
Workshop 2 on age reading of North Sea plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), (WKARP2) was the first age reading workshop focusing specifically on age reading of the North Sea plaice stock (ple.27.420) in the North Sea and Skagerrak. The objectives of the workshop were: to evaluate the level of agreement between age readers for the stock by reviewing results of the 2020 North Sea Skagerrak plaice exchange in consideration of previous calibration and validation work; to standardize laboratory procedures and age reading methods applied; to provide guidelines for reliable age interpretation; to provide age error data to the stock assessment working group; to create an agreed age reference collection of otoliths. Two age reading exercises, one exchange before the workshop (SmartDots ID 281), and one workshop exercise (ID 402) were completed using SmartDots. Age readers’ annotations of growth structures and ageing results from both exercises were examined using standardized quality analyses based on an r-script, presented in this report. Age reading error data has been provided to the ICES WGNSSK (Working Group on the Assessment of Demersal Stocks in the North Sea and Skagerrak) which can be tested in the ple.27.420 stock assessment model. Disagreement between readers is mostly attributable to differences in the identification of the first winter ring as this can vary in width across samples collected from different areas. Results showed that estimated ages in older fish can be unreliable due to a narrowing of the annuli close to the otolith edge. Further work is required to provide guidelines for age readers about which structures should be identified as annuli. Different preparation methods are applied in national laboratories. The group concluded that reading whole and sectioned otoliths viewed under reflected light is optimal; no obvious benefit was identified from sectioning plaice otoliths from fish under the age of 6. Using images of otoliths, the reliability of the age reading results is depending on image quality. To help standardize image format, lighting and calibration a workshop is recommended to establish a set of guidelines for image quality used in age determination.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee