WWF: Papua New Guinea and Marshall Islands deploy innovative electronic catch documentation system for observers

Posted on 18 June 2014    
Ronald Wala, Senior observer and certified PIRFO observer debriefer, holding a tablet and an inReach device for catch documentation purposes
© National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea
The National Fisheries Authority (NFA), Papua New Guinea unveiled a new initiative this week to implement a state-of-the-art electronic catch documentation system (eCDS) for onboard fisheries observers. The eCDS engages the use of near real-time data input through the use of Android tablets and satellite transmitters and is expected to revolutionize the quality, integrity, reliability, and timeliness of critical fisheries information.

The new system includes electronic forms which can be used to cross reference and validate catch and effort and will assist in NFA's goals to be paperless. The system also provides the Observer with their own independent source of two-way communication back to shore, including SOS location tracking in the case of an emergency.

Marshall Islands has also joined the initiative, with Glen Joseph, the Director of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) and a former observer, heralded the new initiative by stating, “We are very proud to be part of this initiative and believe that it could not only improve the quality of the data coming from the fishery, but could also substantially improve the occupational health and safety of our observers using the technology. More importantly, the technology will give us tools to enhance management of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme and be transformative in helping us achieve sustainability in our tuna fisheries.”“This is truly revolutionary for this region and exemplifies the PNA members’ progressive and proactive attitude toward achieving sustainability of the region’s highly lucrative and socially important tuna fisheries.

We are proud to have contributed to this project and the success of the PNA”, stated Bubba Cook, of the WWF Smart Fishing Initiative. WWF contributed funding to purchase the equipment used for the observer eCDS system.Quick Access Computing (QAC) Pty Ltd. a technology firm out of Australia, has been working with NFA in the design of the system that allows an Android tablet to transmit fisheries catch information and other important data directly to regional and national databases through a satellite transmitter.

Traditionally, this data is delivered through a paper based system and may be delayed by months or even years before becoming available for review and analysis, leaving a substantial lag in availability of information that is important to management decisions. The new system will vastly improve the accuracy and timeliness of data available for managers. Mark Oates, the project manager for QAC stated, “We’re excited about this project and what it will achieve for fisheries sustainability in the region. We’ve put a lot of work into designing a system that truly meets the goals and objectives of the Pacific Island Countries and, really, represents a first of its kind application of this kind of system.”The new system also stands to significantly reduce the costs of data collection by automating data review processes and eliminating the need for shore side data entry personnel.

By using a tablet system that incorporates very clear data entry standards and forms, there is no longer a need for additional personnel to decipher and re-enter data from handwritten paper observer log sheets that results in misinterpretations and errors. It also eliminates the potential of information being lost or damaged by storing the information both locally on the tablet as well as remotely through satellite transmission, unlike paper forms which must pass through several hands by mail before reaching their final destination.

There are currently discussions being held with other Pacific Island Countries to expand the initiative and technology to other PNA member states as well as other independent countries of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean region.

For more detailed information:

Alfred “Bubba” Cook, Western Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Programme Manager, WWF Smart Fishing Initiative. Email: acook@wwfpacific.org. +6799035008

Patricia Mallam, Communications Manager, WWF South Pacific. Email:pmallam@wwfpacific.org.

Note to Editors: 1 The Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) controls the world's largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery and includes members Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

2 Quick Access Computing (QAC)is a computing technology firm out of Australia that provides a full end to end service to clients that includes network administration, system administration, hardware support, operational support, software development, and data protection. QAC has been leading the development of the Integrated Fisheries Information Management System (iFIMS) over the past 5 years, which the Observer eCDS constitutes one part. www.ifims.com

Ronald Wala, Senior observer and certified PIRFO observer debriefer, holding a tablet and an inReach device for catch documentation purposes
© National Fisheries Authority, Papua New Guinea Enlarge

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions
Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions