Fishing in Alaska? Deckhand Logbook Advances Data Collection at Sea

The world continues to move at a faster technological pace with supercomputers in everyone’s pockets and satellites streaking across the sky, beaming internet connections to us at sea. At Real Time Data (RTD), our Deckhand electronic logbook platform is helping to bring the Alaska fishing industry up to modern tech standards across fixed gear, troll, and seafood processing sectors. And while it’s become commonplace to see computers and tablets in the wheelhouse, never before has there been such a demand for those technologies to collect, aggregate, and move data as efficiently as there is now. Data collected on the water, directly from the tap of a skipper’s finger (or elbow!) needs to flow quickly and accurately to organizations in the region that are both purveyors and managers of fishery resources.

This past summer we were a partner in a grant-funded trial with the Alaska Trollers Association (ATA) alongside Ocean Data Network (ODN) that aimed to collect harvester observations of oceanographic conditions as a means of skipper scientific data collection. This data can then be utilized to better manage, understand, and protect the fishery. This project brought stakeholders together to discuss the power of harvester-collected data and its potential when shared with industry adjacent parties such as the University of Alaska, the Alaska Ocean Observing System, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (to name a few). When the industry is armed with powerful data collection tools such as Deckhand, information collected at sea can be easily analyzed. Industry data means industry empowerment.

Another strength of RTD’s is deploying Deckhand for streamlined regulatory logbook data collection to improve fisher efficiency on the water. Beginning in March of this year, we engaged with operators in the Alaska fixed gear halibut and sablefish fishery in partnership with the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, North Pacific Fisheries Association, Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union, Fishing Vessel Owners Association, as well as NOAA Fisheries and the International Pacific Halibut Commission. We heard from multiple fishermen in the fixed gear fleet about how time consuming and inefficient collecting and recording trip and set location data by hand is, particularly in the legacy NMFS Daily Fishing Log (DFL). We therefore built a Deckhand workflow that served as an electronic replacement to the NMFS DFL. Tools in our Deckhand software cut down the time fishermen spent logging their required trips to only a fraction of what it was on paper. While this project demonstrated that a more efficient logbook framework is possible using Deckhand, there’s still plenty of work to be done to scale the solution in seasons to come. 

In addition to these fisher-driven projects, Deckhand made its first appearance onboard salmon tenders in the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery this past summer. While Deckhand is typically mounted in the wheelhouses of catcher vessels, a partnership with an Alaska seafood processor aimed to simplify the processing and aggregation of inventory and price data generated by “over-the-rail” transactions to gillnetters throughout the season. Fuel, groceries, and other items were tracked and recorded using Deckhand and subsequently sent back to the processor plant for further action by fleet and accounting staff. 

“Deckhand made life a whole lot easier. The crew loved it, too, and it was extremely easy to navigate through…honestly looking forward to using it again,” commented the skipper of one tender using Deckhand on board. 

This project and future growth in the tendering sector is a prime example of how versatile the platform is while addressing the needs of stakeholders both on and off the water. 

Deckhand is showing its strength in a variety of fisheries and organizations across the Alaska region while continuing to serve fishermen first. At the end of the day, fishermen own their data, get to choose who sees it (outside of regulatory requirements) and get to choose what they do with it. As our company and products evolve, this ethos will remain a cornerstone of our values. Deckhand simply serves as a powerful collection tool that allows fishermen to collect the data they need and send it, if they choose, to where it needs to go.
We want to hear from you! How would you use Deckhand on board? Drop us a line: +1 888-210-3117

Photo credit: Koll Bruce, captain, F/V Evening Star and Deckhand user