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Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA)

FMA Develops New Tools to Increase Productivity and Assure High Quality Data

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Jan-Feb-Mar 2012
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The Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division (FMA) works to obtain information from observers at sea, tracks the observers while deployed, provides quality control editing of the data obtained, and then distributes the data and biological samples to a range of clients within the fisheries management community. As technology has advanced, we have worked to ensure that FMA has taken advantage of the powerful data management tools that are available to us in order to increase efficiency and improve data quality.

FMA's data management and editing software systems are based on tools produced by Oracle. Three years ago the Oracle Corporation issued a statement of direction which deemphasized existing software development tools (e.g., Oracle Forms, Oracle Designer) and put ever increasing emphasis on new rapid application development strategies. Foremost among these tools are Application Express (APEX) and SQL Developer.

FMA has a cadre of developers whose experience spans the gamut from complex object-oriented environments to Microsoft and Oracle proprietary languages and tool sets. With that breadth of knowledge, we chose to leverage the new suite of APEX tools and our existing knowledge base into a development strategy that supports FMA's legacy interfaces of NORPAC while deploying new state-of-the-art user interfaces. The first modules of this approach were launched for general use in December 2011.

FMA's system for capturing observer logistics information was chosen as the initial APEX module as both a good test of the technology and as an opportunity to replace an existing data model with a more robust, documented, and extensible application suite. In this process we demonstrated both the power of the new software development paradigm and provided a significant improvement in the user experience. A redeveloped module for capturing observer cruise information will allow fisheries observers to document this information electronically from any internet connection, thereby releasing observers from the restriction of only being able to complete this documentation in an FMA office.

The cruise information module is undergoing final testing and will be in production by the end of April 2012.

Over the next 18 months, FMA will roll out both a new module to accommodate the Observer Program Restructure (see our article in the October-December Quarterly Report) and redeveloped modules for data entry and final data editing. The utilization of new technology and user interfaces will streamline processes to increase productivity and efficiency and expand our information base with sound data management and quality control processes.

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