|Dr. Jim Wyse|
Research at Memorial University frequently has a direct impact on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It contributes to the growth of the economy through the development of new technologies. One such project is being led by Dr. Jim Wyse, who has been teaching Information Systems at the Faculty of Business Administration since 1984. But lately there's been something fishy about his work.
Dr. Wyse has been involved with a project called FISHnet, a partnership between the Discovery Smart Group (DSG) in Clarenville, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications (CCMC). Using a fisheries management information system, FISHnet aims to improve the profitability and sustainability of the fishery through improved access to information.
During the pilot phase of FISHnet, fishers in Trinity Bay were using handheld computers to record data that would form the basis of this information system. Dr. Wyse has been designing the computer software they use to collect information about variables such as the area that was fished, the gear that was used, and the catch size. By developing an integrated system, FISHnet will improve co-ordination and increase effectiveness in all areas of the fishing industry.
"Traditionally, there has been distance between the skipper and crew on the water, the plant manager on the wharf, and the scientist in the lab or in the field," said Dr. Wyse. "FISHnet will bring all these parties together to share valuable information.
"There's certain data that fishers must record about their catch size now. For example, they have to record vessel information, the type of gear they're using, the amount of fish they caught and so on. All of this is recorded on paper. We're trying to develop a more sophisticated method of collecting data that's easier to use and more efficient to operate. We are also attempting to develop something that fishers will eagerly adopt because they will see it as highly valuable in managing their fishing ventures."
Using a handheld computer makes data collection easier for the fishers and researchers, he said. The software uses drop-down menus, scroll bars, logical screen ordering, and other keystroke-minimizing features to permit inputting data under very harsh conditions.
The handheld computer can also collect more accurate data. A global positioning system receiver can be connected to the handheld device to provide accurate readings of location. The planned interconnection of water temperature sensors and depth sounders will further expand the range and accuracy of the data collected. The possibility of wireless Internet connections to the handheld devices will allow vessel-to-plant data transmission, on-board electronic mail, and the delivery of Web-based information such as Environment Canada's marine weather forecasts as well as the Coast Guard's Notices to Mariners.
Using this method also benefits scientists and researchers because it provides electronic data that can be collated and analyzed more efficiently.
"Collecting data on paper means that someone must then translate the data into electronic format. Using the handheld computer eliminates this time-consuming, costly step. The data can be directly uploaded onto a Web site and made accessible to anyone who's interested."
"It's information infrastructure," said Randy Gillespie, CCMC, about the FISHnet project. "It will help people in the fishing industry make better decisions. So far, fishers have been really quick to adopt the technology. [They] have an important role to play in managing the fishery, and the data they collect will help manage the industry by providing timely and accurate information about factors such as conditions and catch distribution."
The data will be turned into meaningful information that will help fishers fine-tune their efforts and hopefully fill their quotas, he added. "For example, fishers will eventually be able to go the Web site and find out what areas were fished that day and what the catch results were like."
In the future, FISHnet will link an electronically-monitored ecosystem to the fisher in the boat, as well as to fishery scientists, managers, developers and processors - in real time. The fisher will be both supplier and user of on-line information. It builds new partnerships between all fishery stakeholders and pushes the capacity of existing technologies in biotelemetry, acoustics, marine communications and resource mapping.
|© Copyright 2002 Memorial University of Newfoundland|