UPDATE - Electric Edge retained by NOAA (originally from June 2014)
Electric Edge has delivered the report for this consulting project for NOAA on National System Modernization whihc include Integrated Reporting (a hallmark of FACTS™).
In the report at the link below you can read about:
- how each federal region currently collects their data
- what steps it goes though
- where it gets stored
- how long it takes to move from submission to finalized official data
- how simple mobile technology and better system design can remove a huge volume of errors, alot of burden of reporting on fishers, and free up staff time for more important work than chasing unnecessary data issues
Read the FIS Integrated Reporting Research & Design Project Report here
Maryland Striped Bass Version of FACTS™ Expanded to All Finfish Fisheries
The expansion of FACTS™ towards serving all Maryland fisheries takes a large leap forward! The previoulsy released Striped Bass functionality has been upgraded to encompass a large number of smaller fisheries that make up the Finfish set of fisheries.
Maryland Striped Bass and Blue Crab Fisheries Now Served by FACTS™
After successful pilots in both fisheries, FACTS™ can now be used on a voluntary basis instead of paper reporting. Participants receive extra benefits in the form of relaxed rules when using FACTS™ for electronic reporting.
Electric Edge Responds to NMFS Southeast US Draft Implementation Plan for Electronic Reporting & Monitoring
Electric Edge has responded to the "National Marine Fisheries Service - Southeast Region - Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Regional Implementation Plan" document.
Read the NMFS document here
Read Electric Edge's comments here
Maryland Striped Bass Pilot Launched!
The first phase of the contract Electric Edge was awarded in Maryland to transition all of their fisheries from paper-based to electronic reoprting using FACTS™ has been launched!
The striped bass fishery is the most complex fishery in Maryland due to its recent adoption of Individual Transferrable Quota (ITQ). For that reason it was selected as the first fishery to transition to electronic reporting in Maryland in the form of a pilot program that will run until the end of February 2015. After the completion of the pilot, feedback will be reviewed and any required changes to FACTS™ will be made.
FACTS™ will be available to the entire striped bass fleet as of June 1st, 2015 when the next opening for the fishery begins.
The rest of the fisheries in Maryland will be brought online over the course of 2015 and 2016, but they will go straight into production without the pilot step.
FACTS™ selected by the State of Maryland for all fisheries for 5+ years
Electric Edge’s FACTS™ platform has been selected for a 5 year contract (with an option for up to 5 more years) to provide electronic reporting, harvest verification, and quota management (fishery specific) services for all state run fisheries in Maryland.
Maryland plans on transitioning their ITQ quota based striped bass fishery first with other fisheries coming online over the course of 2015. The transition will start in October of 2014 with a striped bass pilot program with plans to have the full version ready for April 2015. FACTS™ has been in use by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) in their Blue Crab Harvest Accountability pilot program since 2012 (now in its 3rd season).
The MD DNR knows that timely and accurate commercial harvest reports are essential to effective fisheries science and management. Harvest information gives fishery managers data necessary in order to make informed decisions about the best ways to keep harvests sustainable from year to year. FACTS™ shall allow commercial harvesters, seafood dealers, and lease holders to submit data electronically via internet based solutions, text message, or via telephone using a call center supported by FACTS™. In addition, FACTS™ shall also allow striped bass check stations to check in a harvester’s catch.
MD DNR manages fisheries in the State of Maryland according to three core management principles: Sustainability, Harvest Accountability, and Enforceability. The current harvest reporting system that is based on the submission of paper reports does not support any of these principles. The protracted time lag between when fish are harvested and when the amount harvested is known makes it difficult to ensure that individual fisheries are managed according to their respective harvest targets. In many cases, the Department is forced to act in a precautionary manner, closing fisheries without full knowledge of harvest to ensure harvest targets are maintained. This prevents commercial harvesters from maximizing economic opportunity in a fishery.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that daily activities are reported monthly and with the exception of striped bass, there is no mechanism to independently validate what is submitted on a harvest report. Large errors likely exist simply because harvesters do not accurately remember each day’s activity/harvest when completing their monthly form.
Electric Edge is looking forward to the expansion of FACTS™ usage in Maryland and aiding the MD DNR and the industry in realizing their goals in this historic transition from paper to electronic reporting. Beyond the mentioned groundbreaking changes in reporting, there will be tight integration between FACTS™ and MD DNR systems to allow key license holder, license transfer, and quota transfer details to pass between systems and remove duplication of effort and streamline the management of the integrated data in conjunction with the electronically reported harvest and validation data collected in the field.
Electric Edge president Bryan Stevenson said “We are obviously very pleased with this award and even more pleased that Maryland sees what we did when we decided to build FACTS™ several years ago – there is a better way to collect and manage fishing data. Our years of work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada exposed us to the challenges faced by fishery management organizations and we have solved a large number of those challenges with FACTS™. We saw constant data quality and timeliness issues with the paper-based collection systems (then data entered), which resulted in fishery managers having to waste a great deal of their time trying to resolve or even understand the problems. It has always been our opinion that those responsible for managing fisheries should be able to focus on managing the resource instead of struggling with inaccurate and slow data which frankly is not in their job description. With FACTS™, fishery managers can focus on what they are there to do and that’s when progress is made.”
Electric Edge Consulting for NOAA on National System Modernization Project
Electric Edge has been retained as a system design resource by the NOAA Office of Science and Technology. NOAA is providing Electric Edge as a resource to the federal fishing regions in the US, all of which are undergoing fishery data reporting system modernization. Electric Edge will be interviewing key IT and policy staff, as well as department heads in those regions as part of this effort. The interviews will be geared towards understanding each region's data collection methods and any technological or policy related challenges they face.
Electric Edge's President said "We are honoured to be asked to provide our systems and fisheries expertise to NOAA as they undergo this significant effort. It will be an exciting opportunity for us and an interesting change to be able to help others with challenges similar to those we have dealt with over the past 5 plus years while developing and deploying our fisheries data collection and reporting software FACTS™ (Fishing Activity and Catch Tracking System)".
FACTS™ selected for Maryland Blue Crab Harvest Accountability pilot for a 3rd season!
We are once again proud to have been selected for another full season pilot. This season will not see many changes to the system, but will instead focus on recruiting as many harvesters as possible to participate in and provide feedback about the pilot.
Electric Edge President asked to Speak at National Electronic Monitoring & Reporting Workshop
Bryan Stevenson, the President of Electric Edge was asked to attend and speak about Electronic Reporting at the National Electronic Monitoring Workshop held in Seattle in early January.
A brief summary from the workshop website states: "The National Electronic Monitoring Workshop was held 8-9 January in Seattle, WA. The workshop was organized by Dorothy Lowman, consultant and Chair of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, who worked with a steering committee of managers, scientists, fishing industry representatives, and conservation interests from around the country.
The workshop was designed to get people from diverse interests, fisheries, and regions to discuss how to move forward with implementing electronic monitoring in federal fisheries from around the country. The tone of the planning and workshop was: we know how to do pilot projects; energy now needs to be directed to implementing electronic monitoring as a viable tool in appropriate federal waters fisheries."
Bryan Stevenson said "This was an excellent workshop that brought together the best minds in fisheries in terms of electronic monitoring and reporting. It provided a beneficial next step to the Electronic Monitoring and Electronic Reporting: Guidance & Best Practices for Federally-Managed Fisheries draft document I was recently asked to provide feedback for. It is always great to see all the stakeholder groups involved in fisheries represented and to hear their unique perspectives regarding the challenges they face as this only stands to help create better electronic tools for the future of fisheries."
For details about the workshop and ongoing work, visit the workshop website by clicking here
To see details about Bryan's presentation, click here
Electric Edge asked for Expert Review and Feedback about Key NOAA Draft Document
Electric Edge was asked for its comments on NOAA's "Electronic Monitoring and Electronic Reporting: Guidance & Best Practices for Federally-Managed Fisheries" Draft Document as an expert in Electronic Reporting in fisheries. This document is intended to be used by the US fishery regions as they plan and implement electronic reporting and/or electronic monitoring. Electric Edge's President Bryan Stevenson said "It was an honor to be selected to provide feedback on this already well thought out document that will be used to aid this important shift in fisheries reporting starting to take place in US fisheries."
Read the NMFS document here
Read Electric Edge's comments here
FACTS™ becomes the ONLY Non-Government eVTR solution that is compliant with the Northeast Region VTR regulations
We are very pleased to announce that FACTS is the first and only non-government eVTR (e-logbook) to be found compliant with the Northeast Region VTR reporting regulations and can be used to submit VTR's. The process was quite involved, but the collaboration with NMFS during this process was invaluable and we hope mutually beneficial.
To our knowledge, this is the first eVTR software found to be compliant in any NMFS fishery region in the US!
We couldn't be more pleased and look forward to expanding our relationship with NMFS and industry groups in other regions of the US.
FACTS™ selected for Maryland Blue Crab Harvest Accountability pilot for a 2nd season!
We are proud to have been selected for a 2nd season pilot. Unlike last season, this season's pilot will run for the entire season and is open to all watermen that wish to partcipate. There will be new modifications made to FACTS™ based on feedback from last year's pilot participants and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In addition, enhancements to more tightly integrate with various DNR business rules and processes will be made.
Once again we will be partnering with Versar Inc. who will provide training and logistics support as well as roving monitor harvest spot checks to verfiy catch.
FACTS™ launches Maryland Blue Crab Harvest Accountability pilot project
Electric Edge is happy to announce that the Maryland Blue Crab Accountability Project has started today with the first round of “watermen” being trained on the various data collection interfaces produced for the pilot.
The pilot is intended to evaluate diverse electronic reporting methods using various types of technology. As such, the watermen will be divided into groups, with different technologies being provided to each group. One group will be issued with basic mobile phones and will report their trips and catch to a call center. Android-based "smartphones" and tablet computers will be issued to other groups, which will report via web-based software that has been optimized for mobile devices. Another group will use interactive text messaging and a final group will use a mobile "app" that can be used in areas with limited cellular connectivity. At the conclusion of the pilot, each technology will be evaluated with the goal of expanding the project throughout the fishery if the pilot is successful.
The elements of the project involving electronic trip and catch reporting, have been based upon Electric Edge's "FACTS™" (Fishing Activity and Catch Tracking System) software platform. FACTS™ was developed by the owners of Electric Edge Systems, based upon the company's experience in fisheries management systems at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In addition to the blue crab fishery, FACTS™ is being used in groundfish fisheries in British Columbia and the northeast United States.
In addition to electronic fishery data reporting, the Maryland Blue Crab Accountability Project requires training and support for watermen, management of roving fishery monitors, detailed analysis of each technology used in the pilot project, and many other core responsibilities that require a "boots on the ground" presence in Maryland. For these reasons, Electric Edge Systems Group Inc. teamed up with the environmental services division of Versar Inc., a multinational services firm headquartered in Virginia. According to Bryan Stevenson, a partner in Electric Edge Systems, "Our relationship with Versar is based upon a perfect synergy between the fisheries management technology that Electric Edge has developed, combined with Versar's extensive background in providing a full range of services to fisheries in and around Maryland". Electric Edge co-owner, Phil Bailey added, "Our partnership with Versar opens many exciting possibilities to serve other fisheries around the Chesapeake Bay and much further afield".
FACTS™ selected for Maryland Blue Crab Harvest Accountability pilot project
Electric Edge Systems Group Inc. is pleased to announce that the company, in partnership with Versar Inc., has been awarded a major contract by the State of Maryland. The contract covers fishery monitoring software and services in the iconic Blue Crab fishery - one of the most prominent and historic fisheries on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
The contract covers implementation of the Maryland Blue Crab Accountability Project, which has been planned by the Blue Crab Design Team - a unique collaboration of government, environmental agencies and Maryland crab fishers (known in Maryland as "watermen"). The project involves the collection of trip activity and harvest data from watermen and crab dealers via Electric Edge's FACTS™ platform (www.fisheryfacts.com). In addition, Versar Inc. will be performing verification of catch data using independent "roving monitors" in the field (also using FACTS™). The project is being implemented on a pilot basis, with up to 100 watermen participating.
The project is intended to lead to improved reporting throughout the blue crab fishery, so that the fishery can be managed in a more accurate and timely manner. Historically, one of the major challenges has related to the fact that the Maryland blue crab fishery is one of the oldest continuously operating fisheries in North America. Crab fishing has been a family tradition for many watermen, going back as far as five generations. As such, watermen had been resistant to procedural changes and increased oversight of their way of life. At the same time, a growing number of watermen realize the need to protect their fishery and livelihood. This led to the formation of the Blue Crab Design Team with major participation by watermen, representing a new era in the direct involvement of watermen in management of the fishery.
Electric Edge is looking forward to being part of this important step towards harvest accountability in the blue crab fishery.
Fisheries management applications to be re-branded and integrated as FACTS™
Electric Edge Systems Group Inc. (EESG) has announced that its various software applications for fisheries management will become modules of a fully-integrated system known as the "Fishing Activity & Catch Tracking System" or FACTS™.
EESG currently has an application known as EasyHails™ for processing hails (fishing trip notifications) from fishing vessels, as well as a quota management system (QMS) for the control and tracking of current quota by fishery managers. In addition, electronic logbook and landed catch applications are currently under development.
Instead of branding and marketing each application separately, the products will become modules of FACTS™. EESG's clients will be able to select the modules that best suit the requirements of their respective fisheries.
Electric Edge Systems has completed development of new FACTS™ Quota Management System
Electric Edge Systems Group Inc. (EESG), in conjunction with the Sustainable Harvest Sector (SHS) in South Berwick, Maine, have completed development of a new fully functional software application for quota management. EESG intends to make the application available to fishery sectors across the Northeastern US and around the world.
According to company president Phil Bailey, "Although the Quota Management System (QMS) was developed for the specific needs of SHS and the Northeast groundfish sectors, we have ensured that QMS can be adapted easily and cost-effectively to serve a wide variety of fisheries and types of fisheries management".
A growing trend in fisheries management is adoption of "catch shares" in which quota (also known as ACE or "annual catch entitlement") is assigned individually to vessels or commercial license holders. This new conservation-based approach to fisheries requires the collection and processing of far more data and far faster than previous methods. QMS directly addresses these requirements.
EESG's experience with quota management and catch shares comes from its long-standing work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (the DFO). EESG's vice-president and partner Bryan Stevenson was the lead developer in EESG's work on quota management for the DFO. Stevenson indicates, "We have been working with the DFO since 2002 with our work on development of the DFO's quota management system starting in 2005. The QMS application that we developed is used to manage quota for the British Columbia groundfish fisheries. Today, these fisheries are known as one of the best managed and most sustainable fisheries anywhere in the world".
Our EasyHails™ system has been succsessfully implemented in the Northeast US multispecies groundfish fishery
Electric Edge Systems Group Inc. (EESG) is pleased to announce that it has launched its EasyHails™ system for the Multispecies Groundfish fishery in the Northeastern United States. This follows the successful implementation of EasyHails™ for the British Columbia hook-and-line groundfish fisheries in March of this year.
The EasyHails™ system is a comprehensive software package developed by EESG to serve a wide variety of stakeholders in monitored fisheries. In British Columbia, groundfish fisheries such as Halibut, Sablefish and Rockfish have been monitored for several years. Monitoring includes the requirement for commercially caught fish to be weighed and verified by independent monitors when it is unloaded at the end of each fishing trip. This requires fishing vessels to provide advance notice to monitoring companies and government prior to leaving port to start fishing and when heading back to port after fishing. These notifications are referred to as "hails".
EasyHails™ provides fishers with the ability to send hails electronically via satellite to monitoring companies. The systems' central portal provides monitoring companies with logistical tools to accurately and efficiently manage, organize, and report on the information regarding trips and scheduled offloads of catch.
Effective May 1, 2010, legislation was enacted in the Northeastern US, which provided incentives for fishermen to form industry groups known as "sectors". The Northeast sectors are subject to monitoring in the interest of managing the fisheries and avoiding the collapse of stocks that have seen rapid declines in recent years. Due to its experience with British Columbia fisheries, EESG was able to implement its EasyHails™ system with minor changes. In the Northeast US, EasyHails™ is now serving various sectors along with MRAG Americas (an international fisheries monitoring company).
The electronic hails module of EasyHails™ is the first of many such modules under development by EESG. Future modules will include electronic catch logs that skippers can fill in at sea, as well as data capture in the field for dockside monitors and observers that are placed onboard vessels. This suite of data gathering tools will offer a complete electronic view of each fishing trip and will be made available to fishing industries around the world.
According to Bryan Stevenson, vice-president and partner at EESG, "The global fishing industry is rapidly adopting better methods of monitoring, and the groundfish fleet in the Northeast US is a prime example. Our software is based on nearly a decade of experience working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the Pacific Region, and we are bringing the benefit of that experience to the world. Our aim is to assist in protecting ocean resources and to help the people that rely upon a healthy fishing industry through innovative technology".
Electronic Hails System Accepted for use by British Columbia Groundfish Fleet
Electric Edge Systems has been developing an electronic hails system. A "hail" is a notification message that must be sent by applicable fishing vessels at the start of a fishing trip, and at the conclusion of fishing activity before the vessel returns to port. Hail messages provide notification so that a "dockside monitor" can be stationed at the dock when a vessel arrives in order to verify the quantity of fish caught when the catch is offloaded.
The original intent of the "e-hails" project was to create a system for fisheries in the Northeastern USA (see September, 2009 news item). More recently, our work came to the attention of the groundfish fishing industry on Canada's Pacfic coast. In December 2009, we responded to an RFP from the Commercial Industry Caucus. Our bid was successful. As such, our e-hails system will be available to fishers as an alternative to the traditional method of submitting hails by voice, often over a satellite telephone connection to a call centre. Our e-hails system will provide a lower cost alternative with greater accuracy of hails data.
Fishers will have the option of switching to Electric Edge's e-hails system starting in late February, 2010. Electric Edge Systems is still developing a version of e-hails for fisheries in the Northeastern USA, which require an electronic hails solution to be implemented in May, 2010.