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Final Comments on the Science Plan for the North Pacific Research Board Comments on NPRB Draft Science Plan - Chapter 1 Chapter 1 was generally well done and the committee applauds the effort and commitment that the NPRB is demonstrating toward organizing its Science Plan. In particular, the committee agrees with the NPRB that a useful step toward success will be to support some focused organizational workshops. Workshops can be an effective way for the NPRB to obtain the advice it needs to move from the broad ideas presented in the Science Plan to a more focused Implementation Plan that provides specific guidance on what work will be done and how it will be accomplished. Workshops will use program funds that otherwise would support research, so they should be used judiciously and with clear purposes. But how the workshops will be used and the relationship to the IERPs is somewhat unclear in the NPRB draft Science Plan. In the committee’s view, to provide a basis for resource management, the first step is for the NPRB administration (Executive Director with guidance from the Board and Science Panel) to identify the most pressing management needs and questions; that is, to ask “What are the greatest management issues now and in the foreseeable future for the North Pacific/Bering/Arctic regions." An example of two possible question might be “What limits the abundance and distribution of salmon” or “What determines salmon escapement/survival?” The subject might be groundfish, or it might be bowhead whales. With a need in mind, NPRB can identify an IERP to provide the integrated scientific information required to answer the question. And at the same time, the geographic focus becomes clear, when planners ask “Where do we go to get that information?” The next step is difficult: the total list of possible management needs and associated IERPs will likely be long, and with its limited resources the NPRB needs to keep focused or its work will be diluted and not useful. It should be the role of the NPRB Executive Director, with guidance from the advisory bodies to make balanced judgments and prioritize the IERPs, selecting a set for attention now (and recognizing that others will need to be set aside for another time). Once the priority IERPs are identified, then NPRB can organize a workshop specific to that question, with the right participants and a clear mandate for the group to define what needs to be measured, where, and what hypotheses to test. In this way, the workshops define the specific science questions and approaches for implementation of the IERPs. As noted in the following section, the committee believes that NPRB must limit its geographic focus to one or two key areas, for a period of time long enough to build a body of knowledge. Multiple IERPs can be addressed in this region or regions, but care should be taken not to select multiple IERPs in multiple regions, or the program’s impact
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Final Comments on the Science Plan for the North Pacific Research Board will be diluted and likely not useful to resource managers. The more focused NPRB activities can be, the more they will accomplish. Given the key role the IERPs will serve in organizing NPRB science activities, the committee feels strongly that the concept of IERPs should be introduced early in Chapter 1 (with their detailed description still remaining in Chapter 3). In this way, the intent of the workshops, which is to provide targeted information that helps bring the IERPs to fruition, can be made explicitly clear. If this is not clear, the workshops will appear unrelated and fragmented, and in the end they will not be very useful to the Science Panel or support the success of the NPRB overall. Along with the concept of IERPs, the committee believes that the IERP discussion in Chapter 2 section 3 contains information that actually belongs in Chapter 1, where it would be given more prominent attention. Chapter 1 is where the NPRB’s overarching premises, goals, and philosophies are explained and the IERP concept belongs as part of this description of the program’s foundation ideas, and not buried at the end of Chapter 2. RECOMMENDATIONS: Revise the organization by moving Section 2.3 to Chapter 1 and introduce the IERP concept early in Chapter 1. Planning workshops should be used where additional, focused scientific input is needed, such as to outline the scientific issues, research components, and estimated resource needs for the IERPs. The NPRB (Executive Direction with guidance from the Board, and Science Panel) should identify pressing management needs and select the priority IERPs for study.
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