Groupe de travail chargé de coordonner les statistiques des pêches (CWP)

Data exchange formats and mechanisms

The CSV (comma-separated values) file format is widely used among CWP parties for the dissemination of datasets and metadata. The readability of CSV files facilitates the interaction of human users and makes this format well suited to exchanging data structures, reference data and metadata.

The main advantage of using CSV files lies in the fact that such format can be accessed through common spreadsheet software, making the files easy to manage and providing a useful option to accommodate data providers who do not have access to dedicated information systems.

For example, FAO has established data structures for data domains namely global capture production and global aquaculture production, in a packaged format comprising Data Structure Definitions and codelists in CSV files and related metadata in text file.

Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange SDMX/SDMX-ML

SDMX is an international initiative that aims at standardizing and modernizing the mechanisms and processes for the exchange of statistical data and metadata among international organizations and their member countries. The organizations involved in the SDMX initiative have developed guidelines applicable to all statistical domains. Furthermore, the user community has established software tools and a registry to host reusable SDMX products.

SDMX is not just a technical standard and offers many guidelines such as a Checklist for Design Projects and Modelling Guidelines which are relevant for establishing an SDMX project for a data domain. For a specific data domain (e.g capture data for dissemination purpose), an SDMX project starts by creating a concept scheme that describes this domain and the data flows (e.g Country sends dataset to an organization). The design and creation of SDMX products and the management of such a project are detailed in this standard project workflow. The structure of this checklist is based, to the largest extent possible, on the UNECE Generic Statistical Business Process Model.

SDMX principles have been applied to fishery statistics and in particular to create the global catch Data Structure Definitions in the context of a joint-project SEIF that stands for SDMX for Eurostat, ICES and FAO. The initiative aimed at the alignment and the exchange of codelists between the three organizations.

SDMX is being adopted as the data collection format for fisheries in Eurostat, in-line with policy for all statistical domains covered by the European Statistical System. FAO is making progress in the implementation of SDMX principles and acquisition of necessary tools.

Technically, SDMX standard offers an information model which describes statistical data sets and the structural metadata needed to exchange them in a standard fashion. The content of SDMX files have visible structure with explanations of what is stored where in the file. The usual format in SDMX information model is XML (SDMX-ML) which makes it a good option for exchange of fishery statistical data sets and accompanying metadata.

Fisheries Language for Universal eXchange FLUX

FLUX standard, developed and maintained by the Centre for Trade Facilitation and e-Business (UN/CEFACT), provides an harmonized message standard allowing Fishery Management Organizations to automatically access the electronic data needed for stock management, such as vessel and trip identification, fishing operation (daily catch or haul-by-haul), fishing data (fishing area, species, date and time, and gear used), landing and sales information.

FLUX contains two distinct but related parts:

  • The FLUX business layer
  • The FLUX transportation layer

The core of the FLUX business layer is the detailed and standardized description of each and any data element needed. For the FLUX business layer, standardization of the data elements and formats is based upon the UN/CEFACT approach of Business Requirements Specification (BRS).

UN/CEFCAT BRS have been defined and endorsed for the following FLUX domains:

  • Vessel Domain: aims to standardize the exchange of fishing fleet data, and more specifically the information directly related to fishing vessels and vessels supporting fishing operations.
  • Fishing Activities Domain: is related to data exchanges in the context of fishing activities performed by vessels during a fishing voyage. Fishing activities include all activities related to a fishing trip. The domain contains reports related to the fishing trip: departure, arrival, entry and exit from zones, fishing operation, etc.
  • Vessel positions domain: provides a standard for the communication of vessel position information (e.g. VMS or AIS) between monitoring centers.
  • Fishing licenses, authorizations and permits: to standardize the exchange of data between stakeholders in the context of request for fishing license, authorization or permit.
  • Aggregated Catch Data (ACDR): provides standard to exchange aggregated catch data between stakeholders.
  • Master Data Management (MDM): encompasses exchanges from a Master Data Register to any requester of fishery information registered in it.

The focus of the TG should be directed to both Fishing Activities and MDM domains that are particularly relevant to the present proposals of global data structures covering global capture, nominal catch, catch and effort and logbook.

Technically, FLUX is a language and not a system. It is a messenger that offers a protocol to create a secure and configurable network between different parties IT systems. UN/CEFACT provides a standardized schema for business process XML schemas and a standardized content called Core Components. The components are harmonized and regularly published in the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library.

FLUX offers several advantages, including a free, open and global standard to automate the collection and dissemination of the fishery catch data. It provides a common approach towards electronic logbooks for fishing vessels, interoperability between IT systems, and relatively easy exchange of data between parties. FLUX is strongly tied to XML as a data format.

UNECE established a Team of Specialists on Sustainable Fisheries to promote, facilitate and support the implementation of the implementation of sustainable fishery standards on a global scale and particularly the UN/FLUX. The project started as a small group initiative of EU member states and later developed into a UN/CEFACT project which engaged experts from all regions of the world, and made it a global standard.

Notwithstanding these advantages, implementation of FLUX is to be further explored for the purpose of interoperability of the CWP global data structures. Considering the growing importance of UN/FLUX in handling fishery data, it is strategically important that the CWP standard for reference harmonization and embedded CWP standards and metadata are communicated to the UN/FLUX Team of Specialists so that this output be up-taken in mainstream considerations by UN/FLUX for fishery data exchange.

Geographic metadata

Geo-referenced data should be accompanied with proper geographic metadata that are, as for data, driven by internationally-recognized standards from both the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the International Standardization Organization (ISO).