First designed for dealer reporting back in 2003, ACCSP’s Standard Atlantic Fisheries Information System has evolved over the past decade into a large, multi-agency fisheries-dependent data collection tool that is deployed as a series of distinct modules. Recognizing that parts of the system are 10+ years old, the ACCSP has ramped up efforts to modernize the system through a database redesign.

This redesign presents an opportunity to move the system towards integrated fisheries reporting (IFR). Currently, fisheries-dependent data are collected from various sources per trip—including Vessel, Observer, and Dealer reports— and matched together after the reports have been submitted. This manual matching is burdensome for managing agencies and can be error-prone.

IFR describes a fishery reporting method that utilizes a single, unique trip identifier to integrate all reports associated with a given trip automatically.

By linking the trip-specific reports from each source (fishers, dealers, dockside samplers, and observers), IFR obviates reliance on manual report matching, enabling managers to eliminate redundancies in the data fields collected across sources. This translates to better quality control and assurance, as well as faster data processing, meaning better data are available sooner for stock assessments and management deliberations.

ACCSP Brings Together Partners for Integrated Reporting Workshop

Because all of our state and federal partners use SAFIS in some capacity, it was important for ACCSP to engage its partners in the redesign discussion from the outset. The Program held an Integrated Reporting Workshop back in May of 2017 to build consensus among its partners on a set of business rules for IFR implementation. Akin to the existing Atlantic Coast Data Standards, these business rules would help standardize IFR implementation across partner programs.

Fisheries data managers from state, regional, and federal fisheries agencies discussed issues associated with implementing integrated reporting, including: duplicate reporting requirements, confidentiality, trip definition, regulatory changes, and the need to adapt to circumstances in individual jurisdictions.

Workshop participants agreed that ACCSP should incorporate integrated reporting into the SAFIS redesign, and that the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Fisheries Dependent Data Visioning Project’s Trip Management System (TMS) would be a good mechanism for doing so.

Trip Management System—the Linchpin of the Redesign

TMS is a conceptual mechanism to integrate reporting using a single, unique trip identifier. Here’s how it might work:

  1. The TMS database receives trip information when an electronic report is submitted.
  2. TMS searches its records to determine whether this report is coming from a new or existing trip.
  3. If the report is coming from a new trip, TMS assigns the trip a unique trip identifier  (UID) and stores this—along with the relevant trip header information such as date, time, and vessel—in its database.
  4. The UID and associated trip header information will be used to integrate  subsequent electronic reports (i.e. dealer and observer reports) submitted for that same trip.
  5. TMS assigns the UID to the subsequent reports, effectively tying all reports from that trip together using the UID.

Participants developed the following recommendations for achieving IFR in the SAFIS redesign process:

  • Accounting for the wide variety of current reporting scenarios
  • Flexibility in trip identification creation
  • Minimizing duplication of collected data elements
  • Following existing ACCSP standards for access and confidentiality
  • Creating a flexible design to accommodate future modules

You can find more information of the IFR recommendations in the workshop final report.

Coordination with Regional Offices to Develop Coast-wide Solutions

Ongoing coordination with the regional offices is crucial to the development of a redesigned SAFIS that is flexible enough to accommodate each region’s permitting methods and regulations.

Throughout 2017, ACCSP worked extensively with the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to coordinate SAFIS redesign efforts with the Northeast region’s Fisheries Dependent Data Visioning Project (FDDV). The program has also been coordinating data integration efforts with the Southeast Regional Office and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center through the Southeast Region’s For-hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Project.

In November, ACCSP hosted its initial design meeting. The meeting brought together systems design experts from the science centers, regional offices, and NOAA Headquarters to discuss how TMS could be successfully implemented into SAFIS while accommodating all state and federal partners’ needs. Several presentations from the regional offices discussed what actions each individual region is taking regarding integrated reporting. The meeting concluded with discussion of a roadmap to move the redesign plan forward. The redesign of SAFIS will be a multistep process that will be implemented over the next several years.