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SMART Tool to Prioritize Fish Discard and Release Mortality Research

SMART Tool Ranking

What is it?

The SMART Tool — or "Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique" — can help identify high priority stocks for discard and release mortality research. The SMART tool is an important component of the Action Plan for Fish Release Mortality Science.

Tested at a 2015 expert’s workshop, the SMART Tool can help scientists and managers — across states, councils, commissions, international organizations, and NOAA Fisheries — to more consistently prioritize research efforts. The SMART tool is an unbiased, repeatable, and quick assessment. It can easily be tailored to meet your needs by region, fish species, and fishery.

How do I use it?

Full Directions | Directions for using the SMART Tool are in Appendix 2 to the Action Plan for Fish Release Mortality Science.

Brief Summary of Directions

1. For each species, ask yourself two questions.

In brief, users with the appropriate expertise first should apply a “management sensitivity filter” to each species being considered. This filter asks experts to answer, using their professional judgement, two questions:

  1. Will a new release mortality estimate likely significantly alter fishing opportunities?
  2. Will a new release mortality estimate likely significantly alter fishing practices?

2. Did you answer "no" to both questions?

If both questions receive a “no” answer, then the species should not be evaluated. This filter is meant to address issues such as the extent to which the species in question has already been studied. For example, if a dozen published studies have estimated release mortality to be 15 to 20 percent for a particular species, an additional study likely will not result in a significantly revised release mortality estimate that would alter fishing opportunities or practices.

3. Did you answer "yes" to either question?

If either question recieves a "yes" answer, the species should be evaluated using the SMART tool. To use the SMART tool, users score the species according to five criteria:

  1. Restricted or rare — a binary option that asks simply whether the species is considered to be restricted or rare. 
  2. Vulnerability — a quantitative approach based on stock status and /or productivity and susceptibility indices.
  3. Economic impact — a consideration of the impacts of a hypothetical situation in which uncertainty about release mortality led to the unexpected closure of a fishery or fisheries.
  4. Political sensitivity and stakeholder engagement — a matrix approach based on whether experts categorize the level of political sensitivity and stakeholder engagement related to the species in question as high, moderate, or low. 
  5. Discard ratio — a matrix approach based on the magnitude of the discard estimate (e.g., high, medium, low) and the uncertainty in the discard estimate (e.g., high, medium, low).

Learn more about the criteria

These criteria and how to score them are described in detail in Appendix 2 to the Action Plan for Fish Release Mortality Science. Appendix 2 also presents preliminary scores for numerous species from several regions of the United States, as evaluated at a 2015 expert’s workshop.