Monitoring systems
Tuesday, 12 October 2010 14:00

Fishery Monitoring is the process of gathering information about a fishery. Historically the need to collect information was driven by purely scientific needs, and most especially the preparation of stock assessments. More recently this has evolved into a more ecological assessment of the fishery. Additionally the monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) or a vessel’s compliance with  conservation goals and management measures is growing aspect of fishery monitoring, along with the newly emerging catch certification schemes which aim to reduce IUU fishing. Still, the basic type of data required (i.e. vessel name, fishing location etc) to monitor these evolving and diverse goals is often the same and careful reflection on the type and format of the data that is  collected will help met these goals. At its best a fully integrated fishery monitoring system will deliver all of the indicators required by fishery managers to assess the biological, economical, compliance and social impacts of their current fishery measures.


Having clear legislation in place is the corner stone of a good fishery monitoring system. Fishers can be asked to submit information on a voluntary basis, or be encouraged to submit data through a reward system,and in small national fisheries this may be the most successful approach. Generally,  however, strong legislation (international and national) that outlines the data reporting requirements and the penalties for non-compliance is the basis of a  strong fishery monitoring system.

The most common method of data collection is to record the relevant information on paper forms, although other methods are gaining in popularity and may become the norm as technology develops and costs are reduced (i.e., electronic logbooks, vessel monitoring systems).  Regional standard data collection forms compiled by the Tuna Fishery Data Collection Committee (a meeting that takes place every two years between staff of SPC, FFA and invited guests) and cover the many different types of data required to meet national, international and WCPFC data standards.
The goal of fishery monitoring is to consistently collect good quality data in a timely manner.  Normally, data quality processes should be incorporated into all areas of the fishery monitoring system to guarantee that any missing data or erroneous information is trapped and corrected when found. Data quality systems also offer the prospect of continuously improving the fishery monitoring system, as problems trapped at any stage of the system can be corrected at their source and procedures, training. etc., amended as required.  
Data management organises the collected data. It also ensures that the cost that has been spent in collecting data, in terms of both time and money, is preserved. The data are stored in a manner that will allow them to be retrieved quickly in a format that is useful for the targeted users.  (See components of data management.) 
Auditing reviews and enhances all aspects of the fishery monitoring system. During a fishery monitoring audit, the actual data, the monitoring procedures, the available resources (staffing and financial support) and the national capacity can be reviewed and staff given the opportunity to assess their procedures and offer suggestions to improve the system. 


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