Good Migrations – HMS Update


Jenny Suter

PacFIN is the hub for West Coast Highly Migratory Species Data

HMS PSG Annual Meeting 

The Highly Migratory Fisheries Professional Specialty Group (HMS PSG) held its annual face-2-face meeting at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA on February 4-6. Team members, leadership, and guests from the West Coast Region (WCRO), Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), PacFIN, West PacFIN, NOAA headquarters, Atlantic HMS, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) gathered for three days to reinvigorate, reinspire, and refocus work on multiple HMS projects. A primary focus of the meeting was how to integrate data and resources that streamline and improve HMS fisheries monitoring and reporting for the Pacific Region.  

To refocus, the team split into breakout sessions to discuss the successes and challenges of some of the most important projects the group is currently working on:  integrated and automated international reporting, defining the data inventory, and synergy for collaborative observer monitoring and reporting.

To reinvigorate and reinspire, the team went on a few outings to meet with local fishing industry experts, including a tour of the Tri-Marine facilities in San Pedro and a local hook-to-fork restaurant, Bear Flag Fish Co., that sources local fish from its small fleet of vessels. The team was also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium of the Pacific at the end of the meeting.

The 2020 Reporting Cycle

The reporting season is upon us!  Prior to mid-March each year, HMS analysts and data managers on the West Coast and Pacific Islands are busy reviewing logbook, observer, sampling, and landings data prior to the annual data freeze and report generation. On the West Coast, SWFSC, WCR, PacFIN, and CDFW work jointly to scrutinize the landings data to make sure they are correctly categorized by fishery. After review and once the data are deemed as ‘clean’, a snapshot is taken of the data and is used as the basis of the Pacific Marine Fisheries Council HMS SAFE report and international data submissions from the U.S. for the Western and Central Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC), and for the United States – Canada Albacore Treaty reports and data sharing. Similarly, a suite of comprehensives is generated from the logbook data, which also feeds into the aforementioned international reports and for stock assessments.

The HMS PSG via PacFIN engaged with neXus Data Solutions, LLC. to build an automated report for the WCPFC submission of total annual catch estimates by species, fishery, and area. The modernization of this report will put a big smile on the face of analysts across the Pacific because they will be able to spend more time thinking about what the data represent and less time copying and pasting.

New Trip Notifications Application for Observed West Coast Fisheries

The West Coast Region Observer Program (WCROP) observer contractor, Frank Orth & Associates (FOA), keeps track of the trip activities of all vessels (observable and unobservable) that participate in observed HMS fisheries (large-mesh drift gillnet, deep-set buoy gear, and longline). Captains are required to notify FOA prior to the departure of each fishing trip to secure observer placement if needed. Since 2013, these notifications have been maintained in Excel files by FOA and shared with WCROP staff weekly.  

As part of the modernization of the WCROP database and data management, PacFIN recently worked with WCROP staff and Resource Data, Inc. to develop a web-based application to monitor trip notifications in real-time.  In addition, the application has interfaces to keep track of active vessels and active observers, along with their training and certification. The Trip Notification application was successfully launched in December 2019. This project was funded by a grant awarded by the NOAA Fisheries Information System (FIS).

The Trip Notification system will have many positive benefits for the future of integrated West Coast HMS data. Once a trip is entered into this system, the resulting trip identifier can be used to easily connect the related logbook and landing records, all of which are part of the PacFIN HMS data ecosystem.