Fisheries data

Developing and enhancing fisheries data processes, standards, and resources to deliver high quality scientific analyses for fisheries management

Fisheries data refers to a vast range of data, mainly comprising fishery-dependent data but also covering economic, biological, and environmental information related to fisheries, aquaculture, and marine ecosystems. The effective monitoring and assessment of our regional and national fisheries resources is underpinned by these data; they are integral to scientific analyses which lead to the scientific advice that informs decision making. SPC FAME provides a data management service to its members to ensure that these data are secure, accessible to authorised users, consistent, curated, and integrated where applicable. Our fisheries data scientists work with our members to design and improve standardised data collection and systems to manage and report on these data, with a recent emphasis on the E-Reporting and E-Monitoring as mechanisms to acquire data more efficiently.

People recording data on clipboard at a fish market

Our data team have a wealth of experience in working across coastal and oceanic fisheries and strives to continuously improve and update the systems and applications for data management so that members have ready access to their data for national purposes, but also that the scientific advice based on the assessments conducted by SPC remains robust and reliable. 

Fisheries data have been collected from the members since the 1960s, and until the early-mid 1990s, these data were mainly commercial vessel logsheets. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the collection of other types of fishery-dependent data, such as port sampling and observer data, and more recently, a shift from processing hard-copy data forms to the automated receipt of data acquired from electronic reporting applications. The increases in fishing activities (and data collected) throughout the region have required increasingly more resources for data management, and SPC FAME continues to work closely with SPC members to develop systems, processes, resources, and capacity to ensure that these data are effectively managed.

Oceanic fisheries data

In the oceanic fisheries sphere, the oceanic data team also undertakes the role of scientific data manager for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which includes the provision of data management support to our members in satisfying their various reporting obligations to the WCPFC. This role covers the compilation, quality control and management of various types of scientific data, such as annual catch estimates, aggregated catch and effort data, logsheet data, aggregate size composition data and regional observer data. These data are used by SPC FAME scientists to conduct the regional stock assessments reviewed at WCPFC meetings, and form the basis of agreed scientific advice on the status of each species stock.

Coastal fisheries data

Contrary to oceanic fisheries, coastal fisheries data collection programs are often under-resourced and so face the persistent challenge of insufficient data to inform important decision-making processes. To improve this situation the coastal fisheries data and science teams have been working to progress the development and adoption of a minimum set of data standards for coastal fisheries, along with enhanced approaches to providing resource assessments in data-poor situations. Advancements in this area include the development of a suite of E-reporting tools and applications for collection and interpretation of market and fisher catch data. Successful implementation of these renewed approaches to coastal fisheries data collection will require ongoing engagement with national coastal fisheries agencies and the fishing communities they work with.

Image: Francisco Blaha

Supporting data access and use

It is vital that members can not only access but use these data effectively to inform their decision-making processes. Our work in capacity building encompasses this area, providing technical advice so fisheries officers are equipped to carry out data quality control and audit national data collection and database systems. Enhancing the data skills and knowledge in the region is fundamental to giving member countries more control over the processing, management, reporting, and analysis of their data.

The helpdesk facilities we have established and the in-house tools that we have developed in response to member country requests are aimed at improving the quality and consistency of fisheries data. We understand that sometimes a one-size fits all approach is not always possible or appropriate, and so we work with individual members and other sub-regional agencies to find the most efficient and effective data management solutions for them.

See also the data governance framework for how SPC handles any fisheries, aquaculture and marine ecosystems related data.