ISAB Review of draft 2012 MERR and HLI Reports

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In April 2012, the Council requested that the ISAB review two documents: (1) the March 2012 draft Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Reporting, and Data Access Framework (draft 2012 MERR) and (2) the draft web-based High Level Indicators (HLI) Report that tracks the progress of regional fish and wildlife efforts in the Columbia River Basin. The documents were developed specifically to address the 2009 Fish and Wildlife Program directive to focus efforts on performance, reporting of results, accountability, and adaptive management. The documents represent more than a decade of effort to develop research, monitoring, and evaluation (RM&E) plans and reports for the Fish and Wildlife Program.

The ISAB finds that the draft 2012 MERR document provides a distinct alternative to previous documents describing RM&E. Unfortunately, the organization of the current draft caused the ISAB some difficulty in conducting a scientific review. The ISAB believes the language in the 2009 Fish and Wildlife Program provides a clearer discussion of the Council’s approach to RM&E. For example, the 2009 Program’s RM&E section follows the MERR acronym (Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Reporting) which provides a logical organizational structure. If the purpose is to create a revised RM&E section in an amended Fish and Wildlife Program, then it may be better to start with the 2009 Program language and use it as the basis for revisions. These revisions should reflect progress and changes from 2009, provide additional clarification on implementation, and incorporate suggestions from the ISAB provided below.

The ISAB finds that the current web-based HLI report is ready to share with the region, preferably after addressing ISAB concerns with consistency of terminology, further qualifying the data, and depicting goals/benchmarks where available. The ISAB believes that HLI reporting can be refined and expanded as feedback on the preliminary set of HLIs is received, additional HLIs are defined, and data gathering and analysis are improved. Further ISAB review of a revised version of the current draft is not needed. However, future HLI reports should better convey progress toward Program goals beyond abundance, such as diversity, productivity, spatial distribution and sustainability. The ISAB would welcome the opportunity to provide advice or feedback on any future expanded HLI reporting.

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