A Case Study

Perhaps the best way to describe the system is to describe how it will function in the real world. Since there are different parts and people interacting, this will give a good high level overview.

Imagine, if you will, a commercial fishing trawler in the Gulf of Maine. She has been at sea for several days and has been towing a flounder net over the flat sandy bottom along the 95 fathom edge that runs south of New Ledge to Fippenies for five hours. There is a laptop computer in the wheelhouse which is running the Contour data collection client. It has wires connecting it to a GPS unit (which provides positional data) and the sounding machine (which provides depth, water column and bottom composition data) -- all being sampled in real time.

During the tow, the system has displayed a color representation of the sea floor around the boat, with the boat's position and heading indicated by an icon on the screen (much as standard video plotters do). Each minute the system has also been storing in a database the boat's position, the depth of the water beneath the vessel and a "snapshot" of the water column directly under the boat.

The captain begins the haul-back process. While the winches are hauling the trawl doors to the rails, he presses the "End Tow" button on the laptop's screen. The net is hauled aboard, dumped and the catch is processed. The captain is presented with a screen on the laptop that allows him to enter the weights of the species caught, as well as the disposition of the catch (whether it was kept or discarded as bycatch). Similar to the paper notebook logbooks present on most every fishing vessel, the captain can access an "Electronic Logbook" from the Contour system and see a summary grid of all the tows made on the trip. The tows are listed one per row, with the columns representing the species being recorded. The last row shows the totals of the various species.

As a reference tool, the system could become invaluable as a collection of economic data, manangement data and the captain's personal history, to enable him to ask questions like:

Once the trip is over and the boat returns to port and unloads its fish. The captain tells the system to report the catch to the appropriate parties. A cellular modem or satellite uplink is established and the minute-by-minute sampling of the boat's positional and sounding data are uploaded, along with the catch information associated with the tows. The Vessel Trip Report required by law is generated and other regulatory requirements are fulfilled.

A landing report submitted through a similar system in the processing facility will allow the system to automatically generate statistical margins of error for the data recorded by the captain during the trip.

The data from all the fishing boats in the fleet are aggregated into a central database. Access to the sensitive information is strictly controlled, but fisheries managers use a Geographical Information System (GIS) to analyze the data to estimate localized fish stocks, track recruitment, analyze bycatch trends, study breeding patterns and manage quotas (among other things).

As the data stream is established for the region, the cyclical baseline deviations become a critical component of the ongoing management of the fisheries. This data stream, the shared product of the fishing community, becomes a key component of all decision-making processes.

© 2001 Aquilon Technology Systems, Inc.

Last updated: October 16 2002 03:40:23.
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