Testing testing: ICES fisheries advice goes interactive

Single-stock advice goes interactive as ICES launches a new app to visualize fisheries advice.
Published: 27 January 2023

​​​​ICES has launched a beta version (test version) of a new app that visualizes ICES fisheries advice. For the first time, users have the opportunity to access and interact directly with the data behind ICES advice figures. 

This is an important step towards ICES advice sheets becoming fully interactive, potentially opening the advice up for wider use and understanding. The app also gives the option of downloading the classic pdf file, thus ensuring that the current use of our advice still is possible.

Advice release

When ICES releases its​ scientific advice, it is published in ICES library with links to the advice documents emailed to the advice requesters. However, as much of the underlying data used to develop the advice, the advice itself, and the catch scenarios provided can only be found in these advice sheets, these data are not readily downloadable. 

Over the past 2 years, a team at ICES Secretariat has been working to translate the advice data from the static advice sheet to an interactive online tool.  

The motivation to develop the app started with a Special Request in 2018: Could ICES develop a more interactive advice product with a simple, easy-to-use interface? In parallel, there were also informal requests asking ICES to develop a database that would store catch scenario information, as well as basic information such as the headline advice. These requests, coupled with a desire across the network to have the advice sheet information more readily accessible, initiated the work on the online advice app.

One of the main challenges has been to develop a shiny app​ robust enough to handle the volume and diversity of advice and data outputs found across ICES stocks while providing a seamless user experience. 

Diving in with single-stock advice

Single-stock advice, mixed-fisheries advice, and fisheries overviews - ICES publishes various types of fisheries advice. Single-stock advice was chosen as the test case for the new app as this is by far the most extensive advice product, it has a standard format that works well with the app, and, as a single product, is the most viewed of all ICES products.

While ICES provides single-stock advice for more than 200 stocks, the beta version currently contains advice data for ca. 100 fish stocks - a selection of stocks from across ICES region with a range of different types of advice. Due to a difference in catch data, there are no Nephrops data included in this version​.

There are stocks from every ICES ecoregion, every stock assessment expert group, and all categories, including those using the latest data-limited methods (Category 1-6 ). 

For each stock in this beta version​, users can directly access the advice data for the past five years. The app is populated with data from various ICES databases - ICES Spatial Facility, Stock Assessment Graphs, Stock Information Database, and Advice View.

What exactly can users do?​

The version launched today is a beta release. The developers encourage anyone with a general interest in the status of fish stocks in ICES region to explore and investigate.

Users can select a fish stock by ecoregion, assessment year, or stock code. Once selected, users can view the stock's development over time. All plots are interactive, data can be downloaded, and there is a direct link to the advice in the library.

Catch scenarios
In addition to the headline advice for each stock, ICES advice sheets usually include a number of alternative catch scenarios to demonstrate how different catch levels would impact on the fishing pressure and stock development. 

The newly developed Advice View database allows the new app (and users) to access the advice, catch scenarios, and other metadata regarding the advice itself. Advice data for a selection of stocks (by species, ecoregion, advice requester or date) can be downloaded from Advice View. 

The app offers four options to view catch scenarios. The traditional catch scenario table but also a catch timeseries, radial plot, and lollipop plot. The developers are eager to hear your feedback on which you feel is most efficient at describing the catch scenarios. 

Testing testing

Feedback is requested! A "Comments and feedback" section is provided under the Resources tab for users to leave general comments as well as rate the features and functionality. All feedback is greatly appreciated; all reported bugs and errors will contribute towards building a better final product.

Looking forward, ICES hopes to add the Fisheries Overviews​ to the app by summer 2023 as well as integration with the Transparent Assessment Framework (TAF).

Test out the new interactive app for ICES fisheries advice now.

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Testing testing: ICES fisheries advice goes interactive

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