By Andrew Hunt, republished from SPC Fisheries Newsletter, #157

On 1 November 2018, the 20,000th fishing trip logsheet was uploaded using the Tails data entry app, marking a significant milestone for tablet-based, small-scale fisheries data collection in the Pacific Islands region. In a serendipitous twist of fate, the same data collector who uploaded the 20,000th logsheet also uploaded the very first Tails logsheet back in 2016 during the first field trials. Looking back over the last few years, there has been significant progress in the region towards improved small-scale fisheries data collection, and a push from Pacific Island countries and territories to use these data for decision- making within fisheries management.

Fisheries data management staff at the Pacific Community (SPC) had been running some routine reports and noticed that the number of logsheet uploads via Tails was approaching 20,000. Who would submit the 20,000th logsheet? Would it be sent from a community-based fisheries manager in remote Vanuatu, entering caught yellowfin tuna from a locally designed and built ‘vatuika’ fish aggregation device? Would it be submitted from the wharf in Rarotonga, with a fisheries officer sampling a few mahi mahi caught by tourists from Auckland as part of the island’s thriving tourist industry? Or could the logsheet be submitted from a data collector in Tonga, entering a catch of wahoo from the local small-scale troll fishery?

As it turned out, the 20,000th logsheet was submitted by Slade Benjamin, a fisheries data collector with Nauru fisheries who assisted with the very first version of Tails, and collected the very first Tails logsheet from a local fisher who had caught a wahoo and snapper while fishing from of a small boat before work. Slade was instrumental in the early testing of Tails and in providing feedback on the first designs and ideas in order to get Tails to where it is today. Looking back at several years of data collection, and those 20,000 logsheets, gives perspective to the rapid uptake and effort that Pacific fisheries offices have invested into this kind of data collection.

These logsheets contain a huge amount of small-scale fisheries data, made possible by the many thousands of hours that data collectors spend waiting at landing sites to collect data, interview fishers and measure catches. An impressive amount of data collection for a tool that was only first tested in 2016.

As the data collection programme matures, and the time series of data increases, these data become more and more useful for fisheries and social purposes. These data inform the coastal fisheries report card, are used to report total removals of tuna to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and in some cases the collection of reef species has helped inform local fisheries management decisions.

Less than three years after the first Tails logsheet was developed, there are now close to 100 data collectors operating in 10 Pacific Island countries and territories, with 451 unique species logged, and 564,092 kg of fish recorded. These data have been used for important management decisions, as well as tracking nearshore the effectiveness of fish aggregation devices, and reporting small-scale tuna catches to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

For more information: contact Andrew Hunt, Data analyst – Trainer, FAME, SPC.

See a short video where Andrew explains the Tails App on sustainpacfish.net

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