U.S. Dept Commerce/NOAA/NMFS/NWFSC/Publications
NOAA-NMFS-NWFSC TM-31: Data Collection -- Groundfish (cont):
Since 1974, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC)
has worked actively with its member states and federal agencies
to improve the quality and timeliness of data collection, processing,
and analysis of fishery information and to produce data summaries
required for regional conservation and management purposes. This
effort was recommended initially by leaders from the albacore
fishing industry, who urged management agencies to organize coastwide
databases for fish landings, fishing effort, and characteristics
of fishing vessels for all fisheries of the U.S. Pacific coast.
These leaders recognized that simple summation of the results
generated independently by each state could lead to serious misconceptions
regarding the status of a fishery, because of the different sampling
and analytical methods used by the individual states. In particular,
highly mobile fisheries that span state boundaries would greatly
benefit from a coastwide database that was accurately maintained.
The landings data that existed prior to 1974 (see section 1.2)
was insufficient for coastwide in-season quota monitoring.
This coastwide data coordination and consolidation effort received
major impetus from enactment of the Magnuson Fisheries Conservation
and Management Act of 1976, which established Regional Fishery
Management Councils charged with managing fishery resources as
geographical units throughout the range of the species on the
basis of the best available scientific information. It was clear
that regionally comprehensive and coherent fisheries data were
needed on a timely basis to provide the information required by the Regional
Fishery Management Councils.
Regional fisheries data coordination requires effective cooperation
and mutually supportive interactions among state fisheries agencies,
which on the Pacific coast collect all commercial catch statistics
from domestic fishers who land their catch at shoreside ports
in the United States, and among Pacific-area National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) Regions and Centers, which are responsible for
collection of all data for fisheries that operate in the U.S.
Exclusive Economic Zone. To assure effective communication and
cooperation among those state and federal entities, the Pacific
area has been served since 1974 by a sequence of regional coordinating
committees comprised of representatives from the participating
First, there was the Albacore Coordination Committee and its Data
System Task Group, which was superceded by a NMFS-sponsored committee
known as the Coastwide Data Task Force. The Committee on Goals
and Guidelines for Regional Fisheries Data Collection was then
established and restructured in 1980 as the Pacific Coast Fisheries
Data Committee, which remains the name of the regional coordinating
The Data Committee consists of 13 members appointed by the directors
of the following participating agencies: Alaska Department of
Fish and Game (ADFG), California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG),
Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
(WDFW), Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), North Pacific
Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), six Centers and Regions of
the NMFS, and PSMFC. The member appointed by the Alaska Fisheries
Science Center (AFSC) also represents the Northwest Fisheries
Science Center (NWFSC).
The Data Committee was chartered in 1980 with four stated goals.
2. Provide data-management consultation and technical advice
to the Council's Management Teams and participating agencies upon
3. Establish priorities and coordinate plans to improve the efficiency
and timeliness of data acquisition and delivery with a minimum
of unnecessary duplication.
4. Promote the development and implementation of coastwide data-collection
standards to facilitate aggregation of fisheries data within the
The overall PacFIN system is expansive, and many of the intricacies
involved in accessing, retrieving, and interpreting the data that
reside in the system are beyond the scope of this document. This
chapter focuses on the procedures and components of the PacFIN
system that are relevant to the groundfish fishery data collected
and submitted by the three state fishery agencies of the U.S.
Pacific coast: WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG. Brief descriptions of related
information are also presented to complement primary areas of
discussion. Information presented in this chapter summarizes
an extensive description of the PacFIN system that is available
through the PacFIN office in Seattle (Daspit 1996).
6.2 PacFIN System, 1981-87
6.2.1 Groundfish Data Collected by State Fishery Departments
In February 1981, the Data Committee hired the system designer/manager
to design and implement the PacFIN system. Prior to this, the
Data Committee had met on eight occasions over a two-year span
and produced an initial requirements document that became the
starting point for system development. One requirement was that
the system would be operational within six months. Others were
that input data would be provided to the central database on the
15th of each month, that data for the month ending 15 days earlier
would be 90% complete, and that all earlier months would be more
complete than the most recent month. Issues regarding the confidentiality
of fishery-related data were discussed at the February 1981 meeting
of the Data Committee. Discussions focused on developing protocols
for data acquisition that met all legal requirements and that
allowed researchers and managers to obtain needed information
easily. The consensus of the Committee was to avoid the confidentiality
issue by specifying a system that required only data that were
aggregated to some reasonable and useful higher level. Individual
fish tickets and vessel registration records were specifically
ruled out of consideration as possible information to be included
in the central database. The Groundfish Management Team (GMT)
of the PFMC produced specifications for two initial reports that
addressed primary retrieval requirements. One report presented
monthly catch estimates by species and International North Pacific
Fisheries Commission (INPFC) area, and another report provided
monthly catch estimates by species and data source (i.e., agency
providing fishery-related data), including foreign countries and
joint-venture (JV) operations. A system specification was
produced in May 1981 and the initial implementation of the PacFIN
system was operational in October 1981. The system was developed
on a Burroughs B7800 computer that was owned, operated, and maintained
by the Office of Fishery Information Systems of the Northwest
and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC), now the NWFSC and AFSC.
A database management system (DMSII) and the ALGOL programming
language were the primary tools used to build the 1981 system.
When the system went on-line in October 1981, it included a single
type of input transaction that contained data elements, such as
date, species, area, gear, port/country/JV, weight-of-catch, number-of-landings,
number-of-fish, and dollar-value. The transactions
provided by the WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG were data
aggregated on a daily basis, while the transactions provided by
the NWAFC were data aggregated weekly.
One very important development during this initial process was
the establishment of a set of coastwide PacFIN codes for species,
area, gear type, and port/country/JV. Since each data source
had its own coding system, it was deemed critical that the PacFIN
system be based on a set of codes that would apply throughout
the entire geographic range that PacFIN intended to address, as
well as across all time periods.
The stipulation that reports present catch estimates for each
groundfish species by INPFC area and data source was soon expanded
to include the data elements of gear type, port, and month. To
meet these additional reporting requirements, it became apparent
that the data would need to be summarized as they were received
from the data sources and the summaries stored in an on-line
"summary" table. This summary-catch table included
data for the following: year, time period, species, area, gear
type, port/country/JV, pounds, and estimated dollar value. The
summary-catch table was essentially a five-dimensional array
that allowed for the storage and retrieval of catch and landed
value by any combination of time period, species area, gear type,
In this summary structure, a time period could represent any month
or an entire year. A species code could represent a single species,
a species complex, or management group. An area code could represent
a single PSMFC area, a single INPFC area, or all areas managed
by the PFMC. A gear code could be a single gear type, a group
of gear types, or all gear types combined. A port/country/JV
code could represent a single port, a group of ports, all ports
in a state, or various other combinations of port, country, and
JV. The first reports generated from summary-catch tables (PFMC
Groundfish by INPFC areas and PFMC Groundfish by Source) were
both produced and distributed in October 1981.
Three additional standard reports were developed: Groundfish by
Gear Group, Groundfish by Port Group, and Groundfish by Month.
All of these initial reports contained coastwide fishery statistics.
Because the database contained summaries for nearly every combination
of period, species, area, gear type, and port/country/JV, it was
decided to enhance the reporting system to produce similar reports
specific to each data source. Agency-specific reports were originally
intended as feedback to PacFIN agency coordinators so that they
would be able to compare PacFIN-compiled summaries with their
own agency-generated statistics. However, the state-specific
reports quickly became the primary source of landing data for
some agency managers, biologists, and economists.
The set of five programs that generated the initial 1981 reports
became the primary PacFIN reporting system. The capabilities
of this retrieval system continued to be enhanced as new functions
and features were suggested by PacFIN clients or were deduced
as a result of day-to-day interactions with the various
users. Many of the extensions and enhancements that were made in the
first few years were a direct result of suggestions
and requests made by ODFW personnel.
In January 1982, the GMT requested that the central database include
the number of fish tickets classified as groundfish, pink shrimp,
etc., so that "indices" of fishing effort could be determined
on a coastwide basis. The number of fish tickets, described as
deliveries on the PacFIN reports, could be aggregated by each
data source, for combinations of management group, area, gear
type, and port. Some of the data sources were able to develop
the requisite software, but coastwide reporting of delivery information
did not commence until March 1987, when all of the PFMC data sources
were able to provide data on groundfish deliveries to the central
processing system. Nevertheless, delivery statistics by management
group became an integral part of the PacFIN system starting in
1982, even though reporting of this information was relegated
to agency-specific reports for the first 5 years.
In December 1983, the PFMC began preliminary discussion regarding
ways to improve the monitoring component of the PacFIN system,
in particular, the timeliness with which landing information was
updated and made available to management. The Quota Species Monitoring
(QSM) subsystem was largely initiated at the request of the fishing
industry, which needed timely information regarding the cumulative
catch of the groundfish species regulated by annual quotas (e.g.,
widow rockfish and sablefish). The industry requested that the
cumulative catch estimate be updated monthly, or possibly weekly,
to allow them to develop production and marketing plans. At the
time, the PacFIN system was providing routine reports on a monthly
basis; however, the reports did not contain up-to-date estimates
of catch. For example, the most current data provided by an agency
were received 15 to 45 days following a fishing trip, and in some
cases data were not received for as long as 4 to 5 months following
the actual catch dates.
Initially, the QSM program was administered by one member of the
GMT, who was responsible for compiling weekly catch reports following
phone conversations with state agency personnel regarding recent
catch information for species regulated by quotas. The weekly
catch reports for a species were multiplied by a correction factor
based on the assumption that the catch data were incomplete.
At first, correction factors were determined subjectively, but
as more and more catch reports were prepared, improved correction
factors became available. Eventually, correction factors were
computed by comparing annual summations of weekly reported catches
to comparable data in the PacFIN central database. The QSM program
was applied using these manual procedures through October 1985.
An automated version of the QSM subsystem was finalized in November
1985, which resulted in a more efficient process and more accurate
reports than were possible using the original manual operation.
6.2.2 Other Data
The PacFIN system also includes various databases that are not
directly associated with groundfish data collected from shoreside
landings in Washington, Oregon, and California. In November 1982,
the PacFIN system was expanded to include foreign country and
JV data for the Alaskan fisheries managed by the North Pacific
Fishery Management Council. These data, which were collected
and processed by the NWAFC, represented weekly estimates of landed
catch by species, area, gear type, and foreign country or JV.
Foreign country and JV data are included within the PacFIN system
starting in 1981. In April 1984, groundfish data from the ADFG
were included in the PacFIN central database. With the addition
of the ADFG data, the PacFIN database included catch statistics
for all fish harvested from U.S.-controlled waters (0-200 miles)
from California to Alaska and landed at U.S. ports.
In July 1986, the Alaska Regional Office (AKR) of the NMFS became
a PacFIN data source. The inclusion of AKR data was an important
expansion for PacFIN, because these data included catches from
domestic at-sea processors that were not being landed at U.S.
ports, but were being shipped directly to foreign markets. In
recent years, the AKR has primarily submitted data on retained
catch for species, or species assemblages, by area, gear type,
In 1987, the PacFIN system also began to receive catch, effort,
and economic statistics for the Pacific salmon commercial fisheries
of Washington, Oregon, and California. The salmon database, which
includes the years 1981 to the present, is a repository for commercial
catch statistics associated with the salmon fisheries off the
U.S. Pacific coast (Washington, Oregon, and California). The
salmon database includes landings (in pounds, rather than in numbers
of fish) and landed value by species, state, port, gear type,
In February 1983, an investigation was conducted to determine
if the PSMFC Data Series and the PacFIN system were both necessary.
The Data Series consisted of a set of tables (hard copies) dating
back to the mid-1950s that included catch statistics for species
of groundfish and shrimp. These data were provided by the Department
of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) of Canada, and the four state fishery
agencies of the U.S. Pacific coast. Throughout the 1960s and
70s, the Data Series represented the most extensive databases
containing coastwide groundfish catch and effort statistics, and
these data were the primary information used to construct the
broadly utilized Technical Subcommittee (TSC) reports (see section
1.2 for a detailed discussion regarding the Data Series and TSC).
It was decided that with certain enhancements to the PacFIN system
the Data Series could be eliminated. The following additions
to the PacFIN system were deemed necessary: 1) fishing effort
(in trawl hours) by PSMFC area and month, 2) logbook-adjusted
estimates of catch by PSMFC area and month, 3) logbook-adjusted
estimates of species composition, and 4) groundfish catch data
from the DFO.
In May 1987, the PacFIN central database was expanded to include
fishery-related data collected by the Department of Fisheries
and Oceans (DFO) of Canada. The DFO PacFIN coordinator submits
catch data twice a year to the PacFIN system. The DFO database
within PacFIN currently includes the years 1981 to the present.
By 1987, only two of the five fishery agencies were able to provide
effort data in trawl hours and logbook-adjusted estimates of catch.
The Data Series and PacFIN system merger was never completed
in its original form. Although this merger was generally unsuccessful,
it did initiate three very important advances in the evolution
of the PacFIN system. First, the DFO became a PacFIN data source
and user. Second, in 1988, the PacFIN system started providing
an annual report to the TSC that included domestic groundfish
landings for the entire North American Pacific coast. Finally,
the attempted merger of these two coastwide databases generated
information that was beneficial during the specification and development
stages involved in the redefinition project of the PacFIN system
6.3 PacFIN System After 1987
6.3.1 Redefinition Project -- Specification
Although the PacFIN system had undergone significant improvements
since its inception in 1981, additions and revisions to the central
database were needed. First, the ability to provide input data
to the central database at the PSMFC-area level was never fully
achieved on a coastwide (including Canada) basis. That is, not
all agencies could provide their data in a format that allowed
the distributions of catch by area and species to be combined
with the fish ticket data, which was necessary to produce the
aggregated-catch transactions for input to the PacFIN system.
Another shortcoming was the inconsistency between the PacFIN
central database and the Research Database associated with the
Southwest Regional Office of the NMFS. In 1987, the Research
Database was the only coastwide (Washington, Oregon, and California)
data system that contained individual fish ticket and vessel data.
Fishery researchers and managers occasionally found contradictory
information within these two databases, which complicated analyses
that utilized these data. A third unresolved issue was that the
PacFIN system did not include specific market categories for species
of rockfish. Finally, fishery economists had recommended for
some time that a primary consideration while developing and expanding
the PacFIN system should be the inclusion of all species of fish
that are commercially harvested from U.S. Pacific coast waters.
The above requests led to what has generally become known as the
"redefinition project" for the PacFIN system. The Data
Committee appointed a subcommittee in December 1988 to investigate
the feasibility of redefining the PacFIN system, and then to proceed
with specification and development stages if the project was deemed
a viable one. The subcommittee solicited input from various users
of the PacFIN central database regarding their data needs and
ways to improve the overall system. The most important requests
are summarized below.
1. Groundfish catch statistics by PSMFC area for all relevant
data submitted by the participating fishery agencies.
2. Catch, effort, and economic data for all species (not just
groundfish) commercially harvested from marine waters off the
North American Pacific coast.
3. Fish ticket data on an in-season basis.
4. A historical database that contains detailed fish ticket information
that has not been summarized or reduced.
5. Detailed species-composition data that have not been summarized
6. A policy whereby agencies submit all fishery-related data
to a single, centralized database system (e.g., PacFIN), which
would eliminate the need to resolve inconsistencies in multiple
databases that reside in various locales.
6.3.2 Redefinition Project -- Development
In October 1990, the Data Committee authorized implementation
of the new system, and development began in January 1991. The
PacFIN office, in conjunction with the PSMFC, decided to employ
a private computer software company to help with the development.
By April 1992, the redefined system was able to correctly process
all of the 10 new transaction types, and by April 1993, all data
for 1981-91 were incorporated into the new, redefined central
Following the modifications to the transaction-processing portion
of the PacFIN system, the focus turned to developing new software
to summarize the fish ticket data and combine the summaries with
data on species composition and catch by area. A primary goal
of the summarization procedures was the re-creation of the summary-catch
tables for 1987-92 (see section 6.4.2 for a description of these
data and tables). In the redefined system, the summary-catch
tables are built directly from the fish ticket, species composition,
and catch by area information submitted to the PacFIN system by
the fishery agencies. Summary-catch tables (1987-92) for the
U.S. Pacific coast states (Washington, Oregon, and California)
became available from the redefined PacFIN database in October
The first significant users of the new, redefined system was the
Groundfish Permit Office of the Northwest Regional Office (NWR)
of the NMFS. During 1993, the staff of the NWR verified the fishing
history for at least 950 groundfish permit applications using
the redefined database. The development process of the redefinition
project was formally completed in early 1994.
6.3.3 Vessel Summaries Subsystem
A number of other useful applications based on the redefined system
were implemented long before the project was entirely completed.
One of these was the "vessel summaries" subsystem.
As the redefinition project was being developed, economists involved
with the U.S. Pacific coast fisheries, as well as the U.S. Coast
Guard, generally recommended that a set of catch summaries by
vessel be generated for the years 1981 to the present. The newly
requested summaries, which would be expanded later to include
detailed information regarding the vessels, were intended to replace
the vessel summaries that were originally part of the Research
Database located at the Southwest Regional Office.
The subsystem produces and maintains two kinds of files. The
vessel summary file contains aggregated landings and landed value
information, and 13 other descriptors for each vessel; the trip-principal
file contains other characteristics of the fishing vessels, such
as principal port, principal gear type, and principal species
Monthly and weekly vessel summaries were being distributed by
September 1993. After a few enhancements had been incorporated,
based on responses from economists and other interested parties,
the vessel summaries project concluded in February 1994. Since
then, the subsystem has received only minor changes.
6.3.4 Transition to UNIX/Oracle Computing Environment
In May 1993, the NMFS formally announced that all of the primary
computing resources affiliated with the agency would be replaced
by homogeneous hardware and software, namely the UNIX operating
system and the Oracle relational database management system.
This stipulation meant that the overall PacFIN system would need
to be restructured, including discontinuing the current Unisys
B7900 computer system. The new system, generally referred to
as "Orca," was first made available to users, such as
PacFIN, in February 1994, but because of various difficulties
with configuring the Oracle software, effective use of Orca started
in September 1994.
The PacFIN system resided on the same computer system from February
1981 until March 1995, when the Unisys B7900 system was shut down
permanently. Prior to this event, the system had been redesigned
for the Oracle environment, all necessary tables had been created,
and all data had been transferred to the UNIX system and loaded
into Oracle tables. Development and testing continued during
1995, and by March 1996, the transition was completed, including
all changes that needed to be made to the QSM subsystem, transaction
processing systems, aggregated-catch summaries, as well as fish
ticket, species composition, and catch by area tables, which collectively
are used to produce the final summary-catch tables.
As of August 1996, two major subsystems have yet to be converted
to the new Orca system: the vessel summaries subsystem, and a
suite of retrieval programs that generate standard reports. Both
of these subsystems, once completed, will include capabilities
otherwise not available to the PacFIN user community.
6.3.5 Limited-Entry Permit Subsystem
In August 1995, the PacFIN system began accepting limited-entry permit data that were being collected from specific groundfish fisheries. In October 1995, it became possible to access and retrieve limited-entry permit data from the PacFIN system. The limited-entry permit data are collected from each applicant by the Permit Office of the Northwest Regional Office, stored in a computer system developed and maintained by the Permit Office, and then submitted to the PacFIN system twice a month.
6.4 Current PacFIN System
6.4.1 Overall Data Flow
All information included in the PacFIN system is received from
the following data sources: four state fishery agencies (ADFG,
WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG), two NMFS Regional Offices (AKR and NWR)
and a NMFS Science Center (AFSC), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG); and
Department of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada (DFO). Information
contained in the PacFIN system is originally submitted as a transaction
type or as a data file by one of the nine data sources above (Table
All data destined for the PacFIN central database are imported
into the Orca computer system using one of five methods: 1) file
transfer directly into Orca using Internet communications initiated
at either the sending or receiving end, 2) file transfer to a
computer bulletin board at the PacFIN office and via the Internet
to Orca, 3) diskette delivered to the PacFIN office, with the
data then transferred to Orca, 4) 8-mm UNIX tape containing an
ASCII file, with subsequent data transfer to Orca conducted by
operations staff at the PacFIN office, or 5) 9-track tape,
which in recent years has not been used by the data sources to
Data are submitted or updated at different times, depending on
the agency. Data are submitted monthly by WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG.
The AFSC submits data on a weekly basis for the Pacific hake
vessels that process catches at sea. The ADFG and AKR also provide
data weekly. The DFO is scheduled to provide preliminary data
each May for the previous calender year, with a final update due
in November. Data for the limited-entry history file are submitted
twice-monthly by the NWR. The USCG provides the vessel data file
annually. It is important to note that data are not always submitted
according to the above schedules. For example, data have arrived
in the PacFIN office as much as a year behind the agreed-to schedule.
For the most part, agencies submit their data in a timely fashion,
e.g., the WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG consistently provide data by the
14th of each month. Data completeness varies, however. The ODFW
data are normally 90-95% complete 15 days after the end of
each month, whereas CDFG data are usually about 90% complete 2-3
months after the end of each month.
6.4.2 PacFIN Database Tables
All of the data submitted by the fishery agencies are validated,
to some degree, and then stored in PacFIN database tables (Table
6.2). For purposes of brevity, database tables have been grouped
into broad categories, and descriptions are general and primarily
applicable to groundfish fishery data that are submitted by the
WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG.
Code list tables
Code list tables for descriptors such as species, area, gear type,
port/country/JV, and agency are created with data that: 1) originated
from within the PacFIN system, or 2) have been submitted by the
agencies (data sources). For the most part, code list tables
are used to validate, update, retrieve, and provide general descriptions
of the data that populate the central database of PacFIN. Currently,
there are 11 code list tables: 6 that are created from data originating
within the PacFIN system, referred to as species (SP), area (AR),
gear type (GR), port/JV/country (PC), agency (AG), and code list
(CL) tables; and 5 that address the relationships between codes
created by the agencies and codes created within PacFIN, referred
to as agency-species (ASP), agency-area (AAR), agency-gear type
(AGR), agency-port (APR), and agency-processor (APC) tables.
The species codes used in the various PacFIN database tables,
such as the fish ticket tables discussed below, do not necessarily
denote a single species of fish, but may refer to a collection
of species that have been landed within a single market category.
For example, although fish ticket information submitted by the
ODFW and CDFG contains a listing for yellowtail rockfish, this
reference is actually a market category that contains primarily
yellowtail rockfish, but often includes other species as well.
Market categories for rockfish are sampled by the state fishery
agencies to determine the actual species composition of the categories
(see sections 2.4, 3.4, and 4.4 for detailed discussions of the
species-composition sampling programs conducted by the individual
states). However, in other database tables, species codes do
refer to a single species. For example, in the proportion tables
described below, the proportion estimates for rockfish are based
on additional data that have been collected from the sampling
programs for rockfish species composition.
Fish ticket tables
Fish ticket information provided by the fishery agencies is included
primarily in two database tables. The fish ticket (FT) table
contains delivery-specific information, where each row of the
table contains attributes of a completed fish delivery. The fish
ticket lines (FTL) table contains market category-specific information,
where each row of the table contains attributes of the market
categories included on a corresponding fish ticket.
The PacFIN central database contains three tables that are collectively
referred to as proportion tables (ACM, SCM, and ECM tables).
The data contained in these tables, along with data from the fish
ticket tables, largely distinguish the redefined PacFIN system
from the earlier system.
The catch-by-area composition (ACM) table contains proportions
that are used to distribute catch to PSMFC areas for specified
"strata" (e.g., species/port/gear type/time period).
A fifth attribute, grade (size of fish), is commonly included
with the four attributes above to specify strata for landings
of sablefish. Catch-by-area transactions are used by the WDFW
and ODFW, but are not currently utilized by the CDFG, which uses
ports to identify specific PSMFC areas where catches were made
(see sections 2.6, 3.6.1, and 4.6.1 for discussions regarding
procedures used by the individual states to apportion catches
to geographical areas).
The species-composition (SCM) table contains proportions that
are used to distribute catch to individual rockfish species for
specified strata (e.g., rockfish market category/port/gear type/PSMFC
area). Species-composition transactions are used by the WDFW,
ODFW, and CDFG. The estimated proportions of species composition
for rockfish market categories are determined from data collected
through sampling programs conducted by the individual states (see
sections 2.4, 3.4, and 4.4 for further discussion regarding these
data collection programs).
The effort-by-area composition (ECM) table contains proportions
that are used to distribute effort to PSMFC areas for specified
strata (e.g., management group/port/gear type/time period). Management
group refers to the actual fishery that the data were collected
from, such as the groundfish, salmon, or shrimp fisheries. This
table is similar to the catch-by-area composition table, but the
fishery descriptor that is being apportioned is effort (number
of deliveries and trawl hours) rather than catch. Effort-by-area
transactions are currently used only by the ODFW.
Catch and effort statistics that have been summarized within the
PacFIN system are included in four primary database tables: summary-catch
(SC) table, detail-catch (DC) table, summary-effort (SE)
table, and detail-effort (DE) table. All statistics contained
in these tables are derived from detailed information residing
in other areas of the PacFIN central database.
The summary-catch tables contain reduced catch statistics that
can be retrieved easily and quickly. The detail-catch tables
are similar and related to the summary-catch tables. During 1981-86,
aggregated-catch transactions (as opposed to individual fish tickets)
were the only types of transmissions that could be used to submit
catch data to the PacFIN system. The ADFG, AKR, AFSC, and DFO
continue to use this process to submit catch data. Currently,
the WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG use fish ticket and proportion tables
to submit catch data, which are then modified into aggregated-catch
transactions internally within the PacFIN system. The data contained
in aggregated-catch input records are permanently stored in the
detail-catch tables. The detail-catch tables (1981-86) for the
WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG contain the original daily aggregated-catch
records submitted by the respective agencies. The detail-catch
tables (1987 to the present) for the WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG contain
internally generated monthly aggregated-catch statistics. The
summary-catch and detail-catch tables are consistent with each
other for all years 1981 through the present.
The summary-effort (SE) and detail-effort (DE) tables
contain three "measures" of fishing effort: number of
deliveries, trawl hours, and days fished. Number of deliveries
is essentially the number of fish tickets. Trawl hours is an
estimate of the number of hours a fishing vessel is actually engaged
in the act of fishing with its net in the water. Days fished
is derived from information included in the fish ticket tables.
The summary-effort and detail-effort tables are structured in
a similar fashion as the summary-catch and detail-catch tables,
with the important distinction that summary statistics for effort
can be obtained for certain management groups, but not for individual
species. For example, the SC and DC database tables contain summarized
catch statistics for sablefish, but do not include information
regarding the number of deliveries or trawl hours associated with
sablefish catches. The effort data for sablefish are combined
with effort statistics for other groundfish species and presented
as a single value for the entire groundfish management group,
which is included in the SE and DE database tables. Summary-effort
and detail-effort database tables are available for the years
1981-94; however, because these tables are currently receiving
modifications, 1995-96 data are not yet available.
The PacFIN central database includes several tables that are used
in conjunction with the tables described above to produce various
statistics on a routine or requested basis. Statistics generated
through the Quota Species Monitoring and limited-entry permit
subsystems are contained in QSM and limited-entry permit tables,
respectively (see sections 6.3.5 and 6.4.5 for further discussion
regarding these two subsystems within PacFIN). The state-vessels
(SV) database table contains information regarding the commercial
fishing vessels registered by each state to harvest fish. The
USCG vessels (CG) database table contains selected attributes
from the USCG's Merchant Vessels data file. Some of the vessel
attributes included in this table are gross weight, length, horsepower,
and the year the vessel was built. The non-vessel (NV) database
table is an ancillary table that contains vessel identification
information, which is created when the SV table is used to translate
agency vessel plate numbers to either a USCG vessel identification
number or a state marine board identification number.
The average-weights (AW) database table contains estimates of
average weight that are subsequently used to calculate total estimates
of the number of fish landed within a specified strata, such as
species/port/gear/PSMFC area. The average-weights table is used
exclusively by the ODFW for species of salmon, sturgeon, and shad.
The update-log (UL) and detail-log (DL) database tables contain
information that is generated during processing operations within
the PacFIN system. The dates associated with amended database
tables are stored in the update-log table. The amount of data
that enters the system following an update is included in the
detail-log table; this information is subsequently used to determine
how complete data transmittals are for each PacFIN data source
(see section 6.4.5 for further discussion regarding data completeness).
6.4.3 Central Processing -- Update
Update processing within the PacFIN central database is now conducted
within a UNIX/Oracle environment. The suite of "update"
software utilized in the PacFIN system is composed of the following
programs and languages: Oracle's PL/SQL, Oracle's SQL*Plus, Oracle's
SQL*Loader, and the 'C' programming language. Data submitted
by the agencies are validated,
to some degree, during update processing. Agency transactions
that are "flagged" as invalid are reviewed by the agency's
PacFIN coordinator, who is responsible for resolving the errors.
Although the central processing system includes some routines
to validate submitted data, the content of each data file (i.e.,
the value of each datum) is strictly the responsibility of the
individual agencies. That is, although input data are generally
reviewed for possible errors, the central processing system does
not include comprehensive validation routines at this time.
For the original fish ticket lines (FTL) data provided by WDFW,
ODFW, and CDFG, the redefined PacFIN system includes update routines
that provide estimates of landed value for catches that do not
include price information. The FTL rows containing actual prices
are used to build a temporary table of information on total pounds
and landed value classified by market category, condition (e.g.,
dressed vs. whole), disposition (e.g., animal vs. human food),
grade, port/country/JV, and gear type. This table of actual prices
is then searched to determine an estimated price for each FTL
row that is missing a price. Similar procedures are used to derive
estimated landed values from the aggregated-catch transactions
provided by ADFG, AKR, and AFSC. The DFO data source does not
provide any economic data, and the PacFIN system does not attempt
to estimate the landed values of Canadian catch transactions.
An important focus of the redefinition project was to improve
and streamline methods for generating aggregated-catch statistics,
which inherently involved modifications to internal summarization
procedures for fish ticket data. The catch-by-area and species-composition
data that are received by the WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG are applied
to summarized fish ticket information (FTL data) to provide aggregated-catch
statistics on a monthly basis. The following steps are used to
process catch data that are received by the agencies: 1) monthly
aggregates of FTL data are created, 2) catch-by-area proportions
(ACM tables from agencies) are applied to the aggregated-FTL data,
3) species-composition proportions (SCM tables from agencies)
are applied to both the aggregated-FTL data and summations resulting
from the application of catch-by-area proportions to certain FTL
aggregates, and 4) aggregated-catch transactions are generated.
The computation of monthly aggregates of FTL data begins by identifying
those months that need to be summarized. This is determined by
finding each month that occurs at least once in the set of FTL,
ACM, and SCM transactions that have been processed. The aggregated
fish ticket data are summarized by month, species, port, gear,
and PSMFC area. This aggregation contains the following attributes
of the catches: round-weight equivalent pounds, number of
landings, number of fish, pounds that were actually priced, and
estimated landed value. Statistics for the number of landings
and the number of fish may not be available for certain species/species
groups. It should be noted that all FTL data for the selected
months are involved in this aggregation exercise, not just those
that will be subsequently apportioned.
Catch-by-area (ACM) proportions that are submitted by the agencies
are then applied to the monthly aggregations of fish ticket data
for only those cells (i.e., month/species/port/gear type/PSMFC
area) that have corresponding proportions in the ACM table. Note
that many of the monthly aggregations of fish ticket data do not
generally need to be apportioned by the catch-by-area proportions.
The catch-by-area (ACM) proportions submitted by the agencies
are then applied to the monthly aggregations of fish ticket data,
but only for those aggregate combinations that have corresponding
proportions in the ACM table. In general, many of the monthly
aggregates do not need to be apportioned to catch by area because
the data for area of capture on the fish tickets cannot be further
refined. Those monthly aggregates that need adjustment for catch
by area are aggregated over area, and the ACM proportions are
applied so that each month/species/port/gear type aggregate is
partitioned into one or more month/species/port/gear type/area
aggregates. Currently this process only apportions the data into
PSMFC areas. The new aggregates replace the original ones so
there is no "double counting" and no changes in the
total pounds landed. Data on number of landings are set to null
for any aggregation derived by applying either catch-by-area or
species-composition proportions. The present system makes adjustments
for catch-by-area to three categories of groundfish data: WDFW
data from Puget Sound, WDFW from coastal waters, and ODFW data
with area equal to "unknown."
At the next step of processing, the monthly aggregates for rockfish
market categories are apportioned into monthly aggregates by rockfish
species. This processing is applied both to the aggregates that
were apportioned to area and those that were not. Species-composition
proportions (in table SCM) are currently applied only to rockfish
market categories, but similar proportions could be applied to
any market categories for which the agencies were able to provide
species-composition proportions. The SCM proportions are applied
by matching them with the monthly aggregates of fish ticket data
based either on month/species/gear type/area/port or based on
month/species/gear type/port. The aggregate values for round
weight, number of fish, pounds priced, and estimated landed value
are apportioned by multiplying each by the corresponding SCM proportion.
Data on number of landings are unavailable for any aggregations
that were derived by applying either ACM or SCM proportions.
The fourth and last step of update processing generates aggregated-catch
transactions to update the summary tables (DC, DE, SC, and SE);
for example, to delete outdated summary statistics and replace
them with recent statistics. The sources of these transactions
can either be the agencies (ADFG, AKR, AFSC, or DFO) that directly
provide aggregated data or the previous steps in the summarization
process (for the FTL data provided by WDFW, ODFW, and CDFG).
The following example illustrates the process. Suppose new landing
data are received. The new information is validated and then
inserted into the detail-catch (DC) and detail-effort (DE) tables.
In addition, a copy of each transaction is saved and used to
update corresponding summary statistics in the summary-catch (SC)
and summary-effort (SE) tables. For each transaction to the DC
and DE tables, five vectors are developed to update the data in
the SC and SE tables, one each for period, species, area, gear
type, and port. For all possible combinations of the items in
these vectors, values are generated for the summary-statistics
round weight in pounds, number of landings, number of fish, estimated
landed value, and pounds with prices. The generated values are
then used to modify the information in the SC and SE tables.
A single change to the data in
the DC table results in a multitude of changes to corresponding
data in the SC table because the information is contained in a
suite of alternative summarizations in the SC table.
For example, if the new data represented catches of Dover sole
taken in May from PSMFC area 2C by longline gear and landed at
the port of Astoria, then the period vector would include items
for the month of May and for the annual period; the species vector
would include items for Dover sole, flatfish, and groundfish;
the area vector would include items for PSMFC area 2C, INPFC area
Columbia, Pacific Council region, and all regions; the gear-type
vector would include items for longline, hook and line, and all
gear types; and the port vector would include items for Astoria,
the Columbia River (Oregon) port group, all Oregon ports, all
domestic ports and at-sea processors, and all ports/joint
6.4.4 Central Processing -- Retrieval
There are two primary methods for retrieving data from the central
PacFIN database: using SQL*Plus routines or using specialized
reporting programs. SQL*Plus is a general-purpose database query
language that is an integral part of the Oracle relational database
management system. PacFIN users who have access to the Orca computer
system in Seattle can develop their own SQL*Plus routines. Alternatively,
the PacFIN staff have developed a large suite of SQL*Plus routines
for retrieving information from the PacFIN central database.
A document entitled "Using Unix and Oracle to Access PacFIN
Data," which is available upon request from the PacFIN office,
gives an introduction to these SQL*Plus routines, as well as other
information for new users. These routines can be used to retrieve
selected data or can be used as templates for users who wish to
develop their own custom retrievals.
The other mechanism for retrieving information from the PacFIN
database is to use one of the six reporting programs that have
been developed as exact replacements for the reporting programs
that were part of the earlier PacFIN system. Examples of the
reports produced by these programs, which have become known as
the "PacFIN standard reports" (see section 6.2.1), can
be found on the PSMFC homepage on the World Wide Web (http://www.psmfc.org/).
As of this writing, the subsystem for generating PacFIN standard
reports is still in development. When it is complete, Orca users
will be able to generate their own standard reports; but until
then, selected standard reports will be produced by the PacFIN
office and made available as described above (see section 6.2.1).
6.4.5 Data Completeness
Data completeness for each PacFIN data source is determined using a variety of indicators; two straightforward methods are presented here. One method involves tracking the amount of data that enters or leaves the PacFIN system during update processes. The detail-log database table includes the total pounds that have been added (or deleted) for each month for all groundfish transactions. Another method used to help determine data completeness is to compare the historical catches that are presented in the summary-catch tables. For example, the monthly totals for catch for the most recent year can be compared to catches from earlier combinations of year and month to obtain rough percentage estimates of completeness in the most recent year.
6.4.6 Confidentiality of Data
The PacFIN central database contains "confidential"
information, where the economic history of individual fishing
vessels and fish processors can be determined from the contents
of the fish ticket tables (FT and FTL tables).
Access to confidential data is regulated through rules established
by NMFS, under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA). The rules stipulate that the only information that can
be made available to the general public are those statistics that
do not reveal the economic activity of individuals or corporations.
In order to adhere to the confidentiality rules set forth by
NOAA, the PacFIN office requires users of confidential data to
sign a "Certificate of Non-disclosure of Confidential
Fisheries Data." Access to confidential data is restricted
to individuals participating in PFMC activities that require the
use of confidential information. However, other individuals who
have contracted with the PFMC on particular projects are also
granted access to confidential data, given they sign the above
Certificate and agree to destroy the data after completing the
study. Only employees of NMFS and other Data Committee member
agencies are considered for on-line access to the PacFIN
This chapter was prepared with the assistance of Ed Heyman, Mana
Hung, and Brad Stenberg. In addition, Stan Allen was instrumental
in the completion of this chapter. We especially thank Drs. John
Harville and Harvey Hutchings, who as the PSMFC executive director
and the NMFS/NWR Fisheries Management Division chief, respectively,
were two of the driving forces behind the PacFIN concept and project
during the early formative years from 1978 through 1983; the success
of PacFIN is a result of their vision and tenacity.
Daspit, W. P. 1996. A description of the Pacific Fishery Information Network (PacFIN) 1981-1996. Unpubl. manuscr., 39 p. plus appendices. (Available from Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission-PacFIN F/AKC, Building 4 - Room 2066, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.)
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