Friday, 11 November 2011 8:12 AM

Fiji National Tuna Data Workshop : Good Data = Good Decisions

Collecting and managing information is the core task for the majority of staff employed in Pacific Island fishery government agencies.

The tuna data they collect provide a clear picture of the fishery and a solid basis for management decisions, and also offer an appreciation of historical fishing patterns. To support this work, SPC has run a series of regional workshops aimed at sharing the best practices for gathering and preparing tuna data, which are subsequently used in the management of the tuna fishery in the western and central Pacific (Click here for more Information). To convey the message even more widely and facilitate implementation at country level, a series of national data workshops has been conducted, beginning at the start of 2010.

For two weeks in October, three staff from SPC's Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) travelled to the offices of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Primary Industries and Sugar in Fiji to conduct the first Fiji national tuna data workshop. The workshop was usually run in the afternoons, allowing officers to keep up-to-date with their daily tasks in the morning. A series of presentations, covering each of the steps that contribute to good quality tuna data, was provided. Some of the topics examined were national and regional obligations to collect data; standard tuna data types; regional organisations' role in tuna data collection,management and dissemination; and the components of a good national tuna data system. Time was also allocated for Fiji to review its current tuna fishery data procedures as a team, and to document any proposed changes.

The training in the second week of the workshop concentrated on showing participants how the data can be summarised and made available using the reporting system in TUFMAN, the comprehensive, integrated database system developed by SPC-OFP and used by national fisheries offices. Participants at the workshop were shown how to produce and interpret the output from TUFMAN's data quality tools, which highlight data gaps and offer other methods of checking the data. With good quality data in their system, fisheries officers are more confident in the reports produced from their national tuna data. Fisheries officers were shown how to produce various reports, tables, graphs and maps of tuna fisheries data available in TUFMAN. An important element of the workshop was ensuring that any national reporting requirements were met by TUFMAN's standard reporting system.

The workshop in Fiji was the first to benefit from the presence of Bruno Deprez (pictured), who has recently joined SPC, and has the task of auditing national tuna databases. Presenting for the first time to a national audience, Bruno explained that data audits are carried out using a number of standard 'tests' on the data that have been entered into the national database. Time was spent explaining each of the tests before carrying out what was the first comprehensive audit on Fiji's tuna database. The main output of the audit was very encouraging as logsheet coverage for trips undertaken by Fiji-flagged vessels was found to be very high during the years 2008 to 2010.

Overall the workshop was deemed a success and was much appreciated, especially by the officers who do not always get the chance to travel to the regional workshops, but are heavily involved with the day-to-day collection and management of Fiji's national tuna data.