On Jan. 7, 2003, the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP), a partnership of 23 state and federal coastal resource management agencies, enabled the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to become the first state agency in the nation to offer a web-based reporting system to the seafood industry, and inspired the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to follow.
When Rhode Island fully deploys the new system, that state will meet the ACCSP’s commercial fisheries data collection standards. The ACCSP staff began working with Rhode Island to build a web-based reporting system in the summer of 2002, with the input of a panel of Rhode Island seafood dealers. The Maryland DNR staff was impressed by the results, and asked that the ACCSP staff assist in modifying the system for Maryland’s data collection needs. The ACCSP staff quickly agreed, and dubbed the system “Standard Atlantic Fisheries Information System (SAFIS)” to reflect its expansion to multiple Atlantic partners.
With the opening SAFIS in Rhode Island, that state’s seafood dealers will be the first to utilize a free online application for real-time reporting of lobster, finfish and shellfish landings. Mandatory trip-level reporting is a new requirement for Rhode Island dealers, who have been reporting using an integrated voice response system for some quota-managed fisheries. Dealers licensed by the National Marine Fisheries Service are continuing to use a federal IVR and weigh-out slips during the implementation, for benchmarking purposes.
“We are very pleased that Maryland will follow Rhode Island’s lead in implementing SAFIS for its commercial fisheries,” says Maury Osborn, ACCSP Director. “My staff and I are eager to help Maryland modify and offer this dynamic system to their seafood industry in the near future. I’m sure both states will enjoy the cost-savings SAFIS provides.”
“We are looking forward to the implementation of the new system,” says Phil Jones of the Maryland DNR. “It has great potential to reduce the reporting burden on the fishing industry, and provide better data.”
ACCSP partners have traditionally employed staff to do much of the data entry associated with commercial fisheries. SAFIS was designed to be more cost-effective, empowering dealers to enter data directly, and giving them immediate access to their own data, updated quota information, and other management news. SAFIS allows dealers to instantly check that their data of record are correct, a first for any fishery data collection system. SAFIS is designed to protect sensitive financial information, and still download easily onto most Windows operating systems. It also offers the dealers business management tools, including receipt and report functions.
Coordinators who understand the states’ needs are integral in the implementation of SAFIS. John Lake, the ACCSP’s Rhode Island Coordinator, is spending the early months of 2003 visiting each of the state’s 120 fish houses to assist seafood dealers with the new system. He will provide hands-on support and be available to answer questions as dealers get started. Rhode Island expects to have all dealers reporting trip-level landings data online by June of 2003. As Maryland plans development and implementation of SAFIS, they also require an onsite coordinator, supported by the ACCSP.
The ACCSP is a cooperative state-federal program to design, implement, and conduct marine fisheries statistics data collection programs and to integrate those data into a single data management system that will meet the needs of fishery managers, scientists, and fishermen. It is composed of representatives from natural resource management agencies coastwide, including the Commission, the three Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, the 15 Atlantic states, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the DC Fisheries and Wildlife Division, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. For further information please contact Abbey Compton, ACCSP Outreach Coordinator, at 202-289-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.