PIFSC Data Management Practices Reviewed by Expert Panel

In July, 2010, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (Center) invited a panel of independent experts, external to the Center, to review and evaluate the Center's approaches to management of scientific data. The panelists were asked to advise Center leadership on ways PIFSC could alter its data management practices to improve the quality of data services provided to clients.

During 20-22 July, the panel convened at the East-West Center on the University of Hawaii Manoa campus. In sessions open to PIFSC staff and stakeholders, they heard presentations by PIFSC staff describing data management projects, practices, and issues in all research and monitoring programs and data management support groups. The Center's fishery-independent data collections are highly diverse, ranging from small sets of measurements on fish otoliths to high-volume, multi-dimensional acoustic data from pelagic fish and cetacean surveys and complex survey data from coral reef ecosystems. Fisheries monitoring data include many new data collections as well as legacy databases crucial to fisheries management. The panel's review covered all major Center scientific programs and revealed the complexity of data management challenges faced by the Center. The panel also met with key PIFSC stakeholders, in a session closed to Center staff.

The panel chair prepared a report representing the consensus views and recommendations of the expert panelists. In appendices to the report, additional recommendations were offered by two of the panelists to address tools for data management and considerations for managing fisheries data. The full report is provided here.

The external review helped the Center focus sharply on its data management problems, increased Center-wide communication about data management issues, and energized PIFSC staff toward finding and implementing solutions. We found that the panel report was insightful and constructive, and we've set out to implement many of its recommendations.