NOAA 2001-048
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani


The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries research fleet is being fitted with a new, user-friendly, on-board fisheries data collection system that will give researchers immediate access to fisheries survey data. The first of its kind in the United States, the system will profoundly speed the delivery of data from ship to shore and into the data banks of the scientists and managers who use it.

The Fisheries Scientific Computer System, or FSCS, was tested extensively aboard the NOAA ship Albatross IV, based in Woods Hole, Mass. The FSCS trial period ended April 30 at the completion of a six-week survey, and the system was declared operational. During the trial, survey data was recorded electronically, and then successfully transmitted in near real-time to scientists at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole for analysis.

"The Fisheries Scientific Computer System will cut two to three months from the time data is collected to the time it is ready for analysis," said Dennis Shields, a software engineer with NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. "The system is an extension of the Scientific Computer System we developed several years ago to give NOAA oceanographic ships real-time access to integrated oceanic and atmospheric sensor data. For FSCS, we worked extensively with NOAA fisheries scientists to adapt the system to the very different types of data that are collected aboard fisheries research ships. It's been a very successful effort."

"This represents the single greatest improvement in data collection over the 38-year history of the survey," said Tom Azarovitz, chief of NOAA fisheries' Ecosystem Surveys Branch, which conducts the work. "Until now, we have used paper logs to record a variety of information about each fish brought up during a survey trawl. Analysts waited up to three months after a survey cruise to work with the data while it was transferred to a database and audited. With FSCS we will be able to begin analysis almost immediately to update stock assessments important to fishery managers," Azarovitz said.

The Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which equips, operates and manages NOAA's ships and aircraft, will install the new system on the seven remaining vessels in the fisheries research fleet. The next vessel to be outfitted is the Delaware II, also out of Woods Hole.

NOTE TO EDITORS: If you'd like additional background information about FSCS faxed to you, please contact Jeanne Kouhestani at (301) 713-3431, ext. 220, or