Agency Partnerships Initiative
Working together to improve salmon data access
Salmon management and conservation - especially run size forecasting, pre-season fisheries planning, in-season fisheries management and post-season assessment - rely heavily on timely access to many different types of information. Unfortunately, information collected by salmon management agencies varies widely in its availability. Datasets may be distributed among many different offices, stored on individual hard drives, exist only on paper, or circulated without any documentation explaining its appropriate uses. The net result is that critical information on salmon populations is difficult and expensive to pull together, making the jobs of decision-makers, fishery managers, researchers and stakeholders harder. And although the need for timely information delivery is crucial, there has historically been very little funding available to prepare data and database systems to facilitate full public access to salmon information.
One solution to the twin problem of data management capacity and data access is collaboration. In 2008, State of the Salmon (SoS) launched the Agency Partnership Initiative to demonstrate the value of improved information technology - from improving database systems to developing web-based applications for sharing data - in meeting fisheries management and conservation goals.
Each agency project focuses on its own particular business needs, but with access to broader insights and experiences from a larger community of data management and research practitioners through the Salmon Data Access Working Group (SalDAWG). Each project also strives to increase standardization so that information can be more easily shared and compared across borders. As a result, all the projects aim to better position fisheries agencies to manage for healthy salmon stocks by improving data and systems interoperability, enhancing public understanding, and accelerating future investments in additional data management and access systems where needed.
By helping government agencies build data management and sharing tools, State of the Salmon is assisting managers in their important work of monitoring and evaluating the health of salmon and providing better public access to the resulting information. With good information, we can continue to improve management for healthy salmon populations now and into the future.
ADFG's Copper River and Prince William Sound Commercial Fisheries office worked with State of the Salmon to modernize the in-season management process in Prince William Sound through the development of an aerial survey and in-season run size estimation toolkit. This toolkit has improved ADFG’s ability to generate timely estimates of in-season abundance and make effective, real-time decisions about opening and closing salmon fisheries in this region. The new tools also support accurate escapement and productivity estimates to help ensure long-term sustainable commercial harvest.
ADFG has committed staff resources to expanding this approach to Cook Inlet and has now fully transferred these tools into ADFG’s central information system as a core management application.
State of the Salmon also contributed to the launch of a new statewide web-based fisheries regulatory news release system for Alaska. This system, which is also available via mobile phone, provides essential, real-time information about commercial fishery openings, closings, fishing areas, and other key information to fishers, processors and others interested in the management of Alaska’s salmon resources.
State of the Salmon worked with the ODFW Research Lab in Corvallis to create the ODFW Salmon & Steelhead Recovery Tracker, a database and website designed to make it easier for the public to explore the health of Oregon salmon populations and access critical underlying data.
The Salmon & Steelhead Recovery Tracker:
Makes it easier for ODFW staff to report on their progress towards meeting salmon conservation goals.
Provides public access to frequently requested data and information on salmon and aquatic habitat.
In May 2012, the development phase of the Recovery Tracker was concluded, with ODFW assuming full ownership of the website. Also, data for a number of new species, regions, runs and metrics was added, and the functionality of the site was improved with better navigation and visual tools.
State of the Salmon partnered with Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership (PNAMP), National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), and resource management agencies in the US and Canada to create user-friendly, web-based tools for improving the consistency and application of best practices for monitoring salmon and aquatic habitat. This work has accelerated the adoption of best practice standards and improved the power of resulting observational data to tell dependable stories about the health of our environment.
These tools include:
MonitoringMethods.org, a web tool for those collecting or analyzing observational data on aquatic species and/or habitat. The tool is intended to help users document protocols and methods used in research, monitoring, and evaluations, as well as help facilitate community discussions.
Salmon Monitoring Advisor, a 7-step guide for salmon monitoring, including examples, tools, and reference materials for those funding, designing, and implementing monitoring programs.
Salmonid Field Protocols Handbook, a set of standard monitoring protocols to help minimize methodological errors, maximize the validity and consistency of data, and allow for reliable comparisons and reasonable conclusions across projects and river basins over time.
State of the Salmon helped initiate a novel partnership between WDFW and NCEAS at UC Santa Barbara that improved public access to critical information on salmon populations and increased interoperability of salmon population data. The partnership’s project expanded available data in the Juvenile Migrant Data Exchange Network by inventorying and recoding primary and derived juvenile salmon data. The project also explored ways to develop crosswalks between data sets collected by different organizations by examining feasibility of describing and analyzing relationships among metadata.
Availability of this data will allow scientists to identify short- and long-term trends in the abundance and productivity of salmon stocks during their freshwater life stage.
Links to information on the Juvenile Migrant Data Exchange Network:
Links to the NCEAS ontology work:
State of the Salmon worked with LGL Limited Environmental Research Associates and DFO staff in British Columbia to develop documented and repeatable methodologies to estimate salmon catch and escapement data set by Conservation Unit (CU). From these estimation methods, the project generated a current summarized data set for all BC regions. The intent of this project was to:
Provide DFO the necessary tools to create and maintain information on the current status of CUs as an accountability requirement under Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy (WSP) – specifically to enable comparisons of CU abundance against status benchmarks called for under the Policy.
Establish the groundwork for creating web accessible salmon escapement, harvest rate, and CU status information in BC and Yukon so that performance of implementing the WSP would be transparent and publicly available.
While achieving the ultimate goal of publicly available, web accessible information on CU status in comparison to conservation benchmarks is still in the future, the initial steps the project contributed in helping DFO document and organize its methods for estimating CU abundance and harvest rate status has been an important WSP implementation step.
State of the Salmon convened a Salmon Data Access Working Group (SalDAWG) to guide the development of the individual projects and in so doing, enhance collaboration among practitioners across North America and provide a foundation for increased data interoperability across borders. This group consisted of scientists, managers, web programmers, database developers, and others working at the intersection of primary research and natural resources management, and its resulting data and data systems. Members hailed from the U.S. and Canada, from Alaska to California.
The SalDAWG had a chance to meet in person three times from 2008–2010. To access the results and presentations from the meetings, see the following archives: