Research project The development of new modules Smartdots for the ICES community

larvae herring

Contact our expert

General introduction

The so-called SmartDots platform is a set of specialized software tools for marine species. SmartDots is software with which biological parameters (e.g. age) can be determined by annotating photos. It allows researchers (mostly within ICES) to access, consult and compare each other's datasets (on biological indicators such as age, maturity, larval identification) via the necessary metadata and automated image annotations. The aim of this project is to develop a series of additional SmartDots modules, particularly on maturity determinations of fish and for counts and measurements of fish eggs and larvae. Until now, the SmartDots platform has mainly been used for quality assurance around fish age assessment.

Research approach

The new modules are developed in close cooperation between software developers and experts in maturity and eggs and larvae. Each module is individually designed, developed and extensively tested before going live. R scripts are also being developed to facilitate and standardize reporting.


The developed modules are used in the context of ICES exchanges and workshops and will thus benefit the international ICES community. All recorded data are available in the connected reporting environment. The biological reading platform SmartDots is an open source solution originally developed by ILVO (Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Nutrition). The software is open source ( development of SmartDots within ICES is guided by the SmartDots Governance Working Group (WGSMART)