Working Group on Governance of the Regional Database & Estimation System (WGRDBESGOV; outputs from 2023 meeting)

The Working Group on Governance of the Regional Database & Estimation System (WGRDBES-GOV) provides the governance function for both the existing Regional Database (RDB) and the new Regional Database & Estimation System (RDBES) that is currently in development. It is composed of representatives from ICES member countries and EU Regional Coordination Groups (RCGs). In this report the WGRDBESGOV reviews the RDBES developments performed during 2023 and plans for the work required in 2024 and beyond.
The RDBES has already replaced the RDB data system in 2023, and it is planned to replace ICES InterCatch by 2027. It has an important part to play in increasing transparency and improving the quality of stock assessment within ICES. To this end, WGRDBESGOV:
-works intersessionally during the year. Three intersessional subgroups (ISSG) areplanned for 2024: The Core Group (continued), ISSG Data Quality (new), and ISSG For-mat on finalizing Regional Catch Estimates Format (RCEF) (new).
-plans workshops and working groups which help data submitters and stock coordina-tors with the transition to the new system. The outcomes of the groups held in 2023 werepresented and four WG/WK have been planned for 2024: WKRDBES-INTRO, WKRD-BES-RaiseStock1, WGRDBES-EST (2024-2027) and WGRDBES-StockCoord.
-works in coordination with the RCGs, to ensure that their needs are fulfilled.
-coordinates with a number of ICES WG who provide technical support in relation todifferent types of data: WGCATCH, WGBIOP, WGBYC and WGRFS.
During the WGRDBESGOV 2023, the participants worked in four subgroups about: Revision of the Roadmap, Data Quality, Funding, and Confidentiality.
Revision of the Roadmap
The subgroup dedicated to the revision of the roadmap gathered the feedback received from developers and from the different working groups, workshops, and users of the RDBES in 2023. From the ICES data centre there was a clear message that the core parts of the RDBES are com-plete and ready to be used by countries, ICES expert groups and RCGs. InterCatch uploads are expected to stop after 2026, discontinuing the usage of this platform in 2027 annual assessments. WGRDBESGOV reaffirms its plans that by 2027 all countries should be able to provide their estimates to all assessment working groups (AWGs) presently using InterCatch working with scripts that start from RDBES data and run on transparent assessment framework (TAF) reposi-tories.
However, significant challenges are ahead to ensure that national data and estimates can be pro-duced in time for RCG and AWG work. Some relevant features and enhancements are still pend-ing, and attention is needed to develop the RDBES-TAF system and to train data estimators and stock coordinators in the set up and use of that system. Deadlines are located early in the year, reducing the time available for data transmission, quality checks, data submission and national estimation procedures. In order to address this challenge, fixed calendar for deadlines of data submission for AWGs is proposed. Additionally, some countries have indicated that they may need more time to get their national estimation routines ready, and there is uncertainty regarding the maintenance and usability of historical data presently stored in RDB, InterCatch and WGBYC databases (which contain important time-series). Using RDBES in benchmarks comes with some additional complications that need to be addressed before its use can be generalized.
A joint RCG-ICES data call (DC) is expected for April 2024, and smaller data calls are also planned for the testing of data by specific WG.
A second subgroup worked in the Data license and proposed a number of changes to the docu-ment. The Conditions for RDBES data use were also updated. Among the changes proposed, one of the most relevant is the inclusion of a statement that data will be requested by a data call which will specify the data required, what it will be used for, and who will use it (thus, replacing the list of WG requiring access). In addition, all users of data from ICES groups and RCGs are now required to sign the “Conditions for RDBES data use” document. Finally, the rules around pub-lication have been simplified. The existing Annex 1 describing rules on publishing data was amended so that it now only refers to RDB data. And an additional annex describing how data from the RDBES can be published has been added, removing the restriction on only publishing a single figure. The proposed changes will be distributed to all relevant National Correspondents / ACOM representatives during 2024 for approval.
During the meeting, WGRDBES discussed current and future funding solutions to support fur-ther development and implementation of the RDBES continuously. The group produced a list of short and long-term needs to achieve quality standards and fulfil specific end-uses needs. The functionalities selected to be developed in the short term (2024) will be included in a special request to the European Commission. The list of functionalities for the long term will be worked intersessionally, and potentially be framed in a regional project aiming to improve the data re-gionally, for all EU Member States and non-EU countries.
Data Quality
Ensuring and evaluating the quality of the data submitted to the RDBES was extensively dis-cussed in the meeting. WGRDBESGOV decided to establish an intersessional subgroup on Data Quality, to develop a plan to integrate a quality procedure for RDBES data. To that aim, two levels of quality checks were identified: a Data Quality report for data submitter, and End-user checks. The format of the upload logs for reporting the completeness of RDBES data submitted was reviewed at WGRDBESGOV 2023. The format of the upload log was also reviewed and some improvements were proposed.

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ICES (2024). Working Group on Governance of the Regional Database & Estimation System (WGRDBESGOV; outputs from 2023 meeting). ICES Business Reports. 4 (1). 107pp..,

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