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FMA Inseason Advising

Since 1997, an increasing contingent of the groundfish fleet has been outfitted with a custom software package called ATLAS which allows observers to enter and transmit their data electronically from sea. A major upgrade of ATLAS occurred and was installed on vessels fishing in 2008. ATLAS provides NMFS with real-time data for fisheries management, and also allows FMA Division staff to quality control data. Secure text messaging capability included in ATLAS enables two-way communication between observers and FMA Division staff, allowing us to send suggested edits to the observer to make in the field, and for observers to ask questions or report problems.

photo of observer entering dataEach vessel and processing facility equipped with ATLAS has a designated staff member that reviews the incoming data. In 2009, 18 staff members are responsible for monitoring 114 fishing vessels and 19 plants. Electronic transmissions through ATLAS account for approximately 85% of all observer data.

In addition to monitoring incoming data for errors, FMA Division staff use text messages to discuss sampling methods, answer questions, and generally maintain a connection with observers while they are deployed. On average, 1,000 messages per month are relayed between observers at sea and FMA Division staff.

Through inseason advising, staff can:

  1. be informed immediately of safety or health issues that may arise while the observer is deployed;
  2. improve data quality for sound, real time management of the fishery;
  3. provide general support to observers at sea;
  4. expedite the debriefing process by addressing sampling and data accuracy issues while the observer is at sea.




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