History of Study Fleet
The impetus for a study fleet arose from a need to improve the precision of data extracted from mandatory Fishing Vessel Trip Reports (FVTRs). NEFSC Population Dynamics Scientists utilze the date from these reports for population abundance analyses, which the precision of input directly impacts the assessements they conduct.
To learn more about population assessments, please visit the Stock Assessments Info Page
The resolution of data from a typical paper FVTR consist of low-level catch and location information from many efforts, whihc are grouped together by stat area fished or by gear type/configuration (mesh sized, etc) fished. For example, if a trawl vessel makes six hauls in a single statistical area with the same gear and mesh type, then the effort from the six hauls is averaged to determine an average haul location, duration, and depth, and the catch information from all six hauls is combined. For sub trip, the vessel is required to report the cumulative fishing effort.
To find out more about FVTR's, please visit GARFO's Vessel Trip Reporting (VTR) Information Page
This type of detailed data collection is similar to the data currently collected by the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP). To compliment this data set and to reduce the rising cost of increasing ovserver coverage, this data can be collected in a manner that is more cost-effective for industry members and the public.
Operators have the ability to utilize various software platformas to collect and transmmit this information elecrontically. This is known as eVTR. Several benefits to electronic reporting (ER) include, auto collection of highly details GPS location information for fishing efforts, auto summation of total kept and discarded catch, and an email function which allows for secure data transfer. These benefits to fishermen also benefit scientist and fisheries monitors by reducing the timeliness of data submissions experienced with mailing in paper VTR's.
The history of Study Fleet can be explained in a series of phases, I-III. The overall objectives for Study Fleet were established by industry representatives, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) during a series of workshops held in various ports in the New England region.
1. Collect self reported data on catch, effort, and environmental conditions without interrupting normal fishing operations and;
2. Developing and implementing electronic reporting hardware and software for collection, recording and increased accuracy
and transferring of timely fishery-based data.
For more detail information on these workshops and implications for use of the Study Fleet can be found in the Perkins Report
In November 2002, Phase I commenced with a fleet size of approximately 15 participants. Phase I focused on developing the electronic logbook (ELB) software and tested supporting hardward.
Phase II, which began in September 2004, expanded the fleet size to about 30 participants and Cooperative Research technicians continued testing and refining the electronic logbook technology, with particular emphasis on the area of satellite communications. By the end of Phase II in May 2005, two ELB system had been developed and a study fleet of 32 fishing vessels had been assembled.
Expansion of Electronic Reporting
We were able to expand our data collection to the Mid-Atlantic bight by partner with Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and few other external partners. This initiative allowed Study Fleet to deploy logbooks to many different types of vessels and vessel locations from Maine to North Carolina. .
We added on 58 vessels in addition to the 37 Study Fleet vessels reporting tow by tow information. We now have data collection efforts accross multiple fisheries including bottom and mid-water otter trawl, scallop dredge, gillnet and longline.
Below are charts of the spatial and temperal coverage of vessels using the logbooks to report catch data. The darker the minute block expresses a higher frequency of data collection effort. Currently, the Study Fleet is in Phase III of its development. During this phase, we are creating a fully functioning structure that facilitates all the steps of the process, from data collection to data auditing and utilization.