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OPEN ARTFISH stands for Open Approaches, Rules and Techniques for Fisheries statistical monitoring. It consists of the OPEN ARTFISH software application and its backbone OPEN ARTFISH database. The software application is built to estimate the total catch and value by species for sampling schemes of small-scale fisheries. Other major outputs of the OPEN ARTFISH are guidelines, manuals, training course and material.

There are several existing methods of statistical fisheries data collection. However, because fisheries are dominated by large and dispersed small-scale fleet, data have to be collected through sample-based surveys. Estimates of annual catches therefore depend heavily on samples of catches and fishing effort from fish landings. However, any sampling design must be achieved at the lowest possible cost; this means that any sampling scheme must be designed to minimize sampling error for a given cost. For this purpose, OPEN ARTFISH was designed as a standardized tool that can be customized to fisheries in developing countries to deliver a cost-effective and sustainable routine for collection, storage and analysis of data. It is based on the appropriate statistical procedures and sampling design, as described thoroughly by Stamatopoulos (2002) and de Graaf et al. (2014).

OPEN ARTFISH replaces ARTFISH, which FAO made available in 1993. The old version of ARTFISH is not compatible with Windows 7 or higher version. OPEN ARTFISH is "Open" because it can be easily adapted to local requirements and more specific outputs/reports can easily be added while maintaining the appropriate statistical procedures.

The design structure of OPEN ARTFISH

As primary purpose, OPEN ARTFISH software application allows to enter and retrieve information from the OPEN ARTFISH database. This database is deliberately developed in MS Access because all estimation procedures can be based on queries, which facilitate the understanding of the estimation process. It consists of "Tables", "Forms" and "Reports". These three main components are linked by aid of "Relations" and "Queries".
The relational basic structure of OPEN ARTISH is presented here.

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Capacity development

Capacity development in data collection and fisheries statistics has always been a high priority for FAO, regional fisheries bodies and national fisheries authorities.
An international training course for fisheries statistics and data collection (de Graaf et al, 2014) was developed to illustrate sampling methods for improving routine data collection, which can provide the desired precision of estimates at the lowest possible cost and yet possess a higher degree of accuracy.

The course provides guidance on the design of the national sample based data collection system and introduces the statistical procedures of the OPEN ARTFISH. However, expertise in statistics is required to design such system. When funds are available, FAO provides support to the development of national data collection system with tailored-made solutions of OPEN ARTFISH.

The most recent effort by FAO was the development of a toolkit for routine small-scale fisheries data collection. The toolkit comprises the software application and its generic database OPEN ARTFISH and a mobile phone application based on the Open Data Kit (ODK) which is an open source suite of tools.

The toolkit's primary objective is to facilitate the implementation of cost-effective and sustainable routine data collection, storage and analysis of data, using the appropriate statistical procedures. The manual provides detailed guidance on the use of the OPEN ARTFISH database and the installation and use of the ODK application on Android mobile phones systems.

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Implementation cases

The first version of OPEN ARTFISH was developed in 2011 for artisanal fisheries in Burundi, during the Lake Tanganyika Integrated Regional Development Programme. Thereafter, with financial support from FAO and the World Bank, tailored versions of OPEN ARTFISH linked to the mobile phone application were installed in several countries. The application was successfully tested and then set up for use under the project TCP/SFC/3501, "Improvement of fisheries data collection in Central Africa" in collaboration with the Regional Fisheries Committee for the Gulf of Guinea (COREP)i.e. Cameroon, Congo Dem. Rep., Congo Rep., Sao Tome and Principe. Afterwards, OPEN ARTFISH and the mobile application were installed in other countries, in the Fishery Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) i.e. Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, and in the South Western Indian Ocean (Comoros, Madagascar, United Rep. of Tanzania).

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