Recently we announced that WRL would collaborate with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) to conduct an independent peer review of the Western rock lobster science and modelling.
We’ve all heard the phrase “peer review” as giving credibility to research and academic papers, but what does it actually mean and how does it work? Find out more below!
What is a peer review?
The peer review process is seen as the gold standard in science because it ensures the rigour, and consistency of academic outputs. It’s a process where scientists (“peers”) evaluate the quality of other scientists’ work. By doing this, they aim to ensure the work is rigorous, contemporary, coherent, builds on past research and adds to what we already know.
Typically, through rounds of review, outdated or flawed ideas are eliminated and good ideas are strengthened and improved. Peer reviewing also ensures that science is relatively independent.
Has the WRL fishery done a peer review before and why are we doing another one?
Peer reviews are very common and the WRL fishery is very familiar with them! Scientific Services Systems (SCS) has conducted peer reviews on the stock assessments and modelling of this fishery every year since 2000 as part of the industry’s Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation.
Additional international reviews were also conducted on the modelling in 2007 and 2011 during the model’s important development phase. After seven years of operation it is appropriate and natural timing for another one!
At the WRL Board meeting held on 12 January 2018 the Board agreed that WRL should work collaboratively with DPIRD to undertake a new independent peer review of the Western Rock Lobster model and science to better understand if the current model accurately reflects the new quota-based fishing practices and recent changes in observations of lobster recruitment and behaviour.
How and when do we do a peer review?
To kickstart the whole review process, WRL and DPIRD will be holding a first workshop in April 2018 consisting of DPIRD scientists and up to twenty experienced current and past fishers representing the full extent of the fishery including locations and practices.
The purpose of the first workshop is for fishers to communicate current observations, concerns and priorities to be addressed during the peer review process. Fishers and scientists will also discuss the model inputs and assumptions to see whether any changes should be made based on current observations and understanding. Importantly, this peer review process will bring fishers and scientists closer together to ensure what is happening in the fishery is being represented in the modelling and science which are used to manage the fishery and set the TACC.
A report of this first workshop along with the model will be provided to a panel of independent and reputable peer reviewers, with considerable experience in stock assessment modelling and lobster biology. They will assess this information before participating in a second workshop at the start of June 2018 to interrogate the outcomes of the first workshop and the model itself. The peer reviewers will then write a report on the robustness and accuracy of the model and science and suggest any improvement that could be made. The peer review will be completed in time for its consideration as part of this year’s TACC setting process.
Global leaders in innovative, sustainable lobster management
The Western Australian Rock Lobster fishery was the first fishery in the world to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the MSC in 2000 in recognition of the high environmental values, robust science underpinning strong management and sustainable practices maintained by industry members. The MSC recertification showcases the fishery’s commitment to sustainable practices.
This peer review is yet another example that our industry is a world leader in proactive and responsible management. An early and comprehensive response to fisher observations of changes in the fishery, by conducting this independent peer review of the fishery’s modelling and science, ensures that this robust science informing appropriate management of this iconic fishery continues.