This was the first interim year for the multi-annual Terms of References (ToRs) for the Working Group on Biological Parameters (WGBIOP). The group met 1–5 October in Ghent, Belgium. The overall aim for WGBIOP is to review the status of current issues, achievements and developments of biological parameters and identify future needs in line with ICES requirements and the wider European environmental monitoring and management.
ToR a is a generic ToR which reviews both the need for new calibration exercises on biological parameters as well as outcomes and recommendations of these. All the tables containing detailed information about national experts’ contacts, stocks handled and techniques used in age reading, were updated and greatly improved. The WGBIOP Data Quality Assurance Repository (http://ices.dk/commu-nity/Pages/PGCCDBS-doc-repository.aspx) is an open source webpage containing all this kind of information and related reports traced back in time.
ToR b is also a generic ToR for WGBIOP which standardises and updates guidelines for age reading, maturity staging and other biological parameter exchanges and/or workshops following the learned experienced from past inter-calibration exercises. Also, validation is essential to ensure the accuracy of biological data used as input for assessment and in the following two years WGBIOP will continue to work on identifying and prioritising these needs
ToR c links WGBIOP with the assessment groups and ensures issues and quality indi-cators of biological parameter are incorporated into the assessment and management of stocks. The issue lists for upcoming benchmark assessments are annually evaluated and, where necessary, action is undertaken by WGBIOP. This year also focussed on scrutinizing results from previous age and maturity calibration exercises to detect gaps in the quality assurance of biological parameters in stocks for which a benchmark is planned. This lead to additional exchanges being proposed for 2019 and 2020. Stock coordinators of upcoming benchmarks have been contacted with responses to issues on biological parameters.
ToR d documents sources of life-history parameter estimates which are critical and rel-evant to improvement of assessment. At the same time this facilitates closer links be-tween data providers and data end-users. As such there is a close relationship between WGBIOP and WKLIFE scientists. This year focussed specifically on fish stomach sam-pling and fish condition parameters.
The focus of ToR e is on dealing with technical and statistical recommendations ad-dressed to WGBIOP. In some cases this lead to the proposal of age and maturity ex-changes and workshops for 2019. Also, an overview was prepared with the biological parameter information required for stock assessments. This information is fundamen-tal for ToR c and the link to the stock assessment EG’s.
ToR f further developed a prioritised list of issues for SmartDots and formulated WGSMART, the SmartDots governance group. SmartDots was implemented by ICES and the first exercises have been carried out in 2018.
Besides the above ToRs, WGBIOP also organised a scientific session ‘Otoliths beyond age reading’, developed a workplan for the CRR Handbook on maturity staging and continued cooperation with RCG’s.