Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee (TRAC)
Table of contents
Since 1998, the Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee (TRAC) has reviewed stock assessments and projections necessary to support management activities for shared resources across the U.S. Canada boundary in the Gulf of Maine-Georges Bank region. These assessments are necessary to advise decision makers on the status of these resources and likely consequences of policy choices. When TRAC was established, it was recognized that its work and documentation would evolve in order to adapt to new realities and would build on experience. Most significantly, the formation of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) in 2000 and the recent development of arrangements for consistent management of cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder on eastern Georges Bank have placed new demands on the TRAC process and for TRAC documentation. The TRAC process and the documents necessary to fulfill requirements in the near future are described here.
TRAC is the scientific arm of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC). TRAC advice to the TMGC for the transboundary shared resources across the Canada-U.S. border is provided in the TRAC Status Reports.
DFO, Maritimes Region and the Greater Atlantic Region of NOAA Fisheries, appoint one person each to act as TRAC co-chairs. The co-chairs administer the TRAC review process and the publication of product documents and schedule TRAC review meetings. They may chair TRAC review meetings or delegate by agreement.
Oversight of Process: NOAA Fisheries and DFO appoint one person each to act as TRAC co-chairs. The co-chairs administer the TRAC review process and the publication of product documents and schedule TRAC review meetings. They may chair TRAC review meetings or delegate by agreement.
Formulation of the Remit: The remit is a succinct statement of the analyses and review that is requested of the TRAC. The TMGC, in consultation with the TRAC co-chairs, draft the remit. The remit outlines the required products of the TRAC along with the timelines.
Preparation of Assessments: The TRAC co-chairs designate co-experts, one staff from NOAA Fisheries and one staff from DFO, for each management unit reviewed at TRAC. The co-experts are responsible for coordinating data preparation, leading the conduct of analyses, facilitating the preparation of working papers for TRAC and their presentation at TRAC. TRAC may also invite and review assessment analyses conducted by others, including non-NOAA Fisheries and non-DFO staff.
Review of Assessments: The TRAC employs a two-tiered review process in which each of the stocks periodically undergoes an intensive peer review of the assessment model and assumptions. This is termed a benchmark assessment review. The benchmark assessment framework is applied as required, generally on an annual schedule, to provide the peer reviewed assessment of the resource status to fisheries managers. This is simply termed an assessment review. It is considered preferable to conduct benchmark assessment reviews during meetings dedicated to that task rather than in conjunction with an assessment review. The aim is to conduct benchmark assessment reviews well enough in advance of assessment reviews to permit incorporation of a new framework in the assessment.
Peer review of a benchmark assessment framework involves evaluation of the technical aspects surrounding analysis of fisheries data and requires participation of local technical experts as well as those solicited from the international community to bring particular knowledge and experience to the table. As well, stakeholders with particular insights into interpretation of the data being considered are required. The mandate of a benchmark review meeting is to reach consensus on a framework to be applied for determination of stock status and to fully document that framework in the Proceedings. The benchmark assessment framework will not subsequently be re-evaluated until progress on the science warrants. Generally several years of additional information are required before another benchmark review is justified. TRAC, through the TRAC co-chairs, would recommend to the TMGC when framework reviews are warranted. The TMGC would consult with the TRAC co-chairs to establish the schedule for a benchmark assessment review. NOAA Fisheries and DFO commit to supporting participation at each benchmark assessment review by at least two scientists that are not employed in the U.S. Northeast Region and the Canadian Maritimes Region.
The mandate of the assessment peer review is to appropriately apply the benchmark assessment framework to fishery, survey and biological data acquired since the last assessment in order to elucidate the current status of the stock. Participation in this process by both assessment scientists and stakeholders with particular insights into the fisheries and stocks being evaluated is encouraged to foster interpretation, communication and understanding of the results.
Communication of TRAC Results: The TRAC co-chairs (or their designees) are responsible for presentation of the TRAC results, e.g. TSRs, highlights of proceedings, summaries of new analyses, etc., to the TMGC. TRAC co-chairs and stock co-experts may be called upon by the TMGC to make presentations at public consultations.
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