Fisheries Information Management Systems (FIMS) / by Francisco Blaha

For the last 2 days I been in a room in Brisbane talking fish with data guys, which is not new for me and something I enjoy! For a while now I have been working aligning my usual operational work at wharf side and vessels with the collection an management of data.

In fact more and more I see the management of "fish" as no different to the management of data.  For example, when fish is landed, is like a deposit in a bank or minutes on a pre pay phone... every time you use the fish for processing , sales, etc. is like you making an extraction or you make a phone call... so that original "deposit" gets less and less until is exhausted... and you cannot make more extractions. 

Let me put it this way, is you landed legally 100, is no way you can "use" (process- export) 120 from that 100 landed...  those 20 either come form a different legal landing or they come come an ilegal landing. And here I see a huge tool to work against IUU fishing.

Because is not like some one takes the money to the bank or stuff it into your phone... is just data... Fish is actually real but the volumes and transactions can be made data! 

The concept of an FIMS is that it uses existing database systems, integrates and enhances them where required, and provides for the addition of new integrated systems to manage data not currently catered for.

At the top of the FIMS structure is a suite of reporting systems that will pull all of the information together and provide top-level reports (integrating all of the data sources into data summaries and charts), and allow “drilling down” to see more detail if required.

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The types of data that may be incorporated into the system will include all tuna fisheries data, VMS (vessel monitoring systems) data, MCS (monitoring, control and surveillance) data, real time observer data, licensing data, trade data, and so on.  A good  FIMS can integrate relevant sets of information in real time, and make it available at the “press of a button”, obviously this FIMS will also does for electronic exchanges on a national and regional basis involving partner agencies and the fishing industry itself.

In the Pacific we are working in two fronts; the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (PNG/NFA) and the Office of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) are continuously developing with a consulting firm from Australia an integrated FIMS ( i-FIMS) that provides a hierarchical structure for these national and subregional organisations, but with additional components specific to PNG/NFA’s national database requirements. Work on this system is already well advanced and integrates with database systems developed and maintained by SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Programme (TUFMAN, TUBS, TAGDAGER) for scientific purposes

The second initiative is working at a more general level with data from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) integrating all data streams and in compatibility with the iFIMS.

The work of this guys is gold for me, as it allows for tracking and mass balance of fish movements, and this are the key for parallel areas of my work interest: Port State Measures, Catch Certification and IUU fisheries deterrence.