This year’s 19th Annual National Tuna Congress, held in General Santos City, Philippines, marked a major milestone for the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) and the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). After months of coding and development, preceded by extensive design planning, USAID Oceans and BFAR unveiled the newly developed electronic Catch Documentation and Traceability System (CDTS) on September 6, 2017, in front of a crowd of government officials and industry members at the Philippines’ largest industry gathering.
USAID Oceans and BFAR established General Santos City, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, as a learning site for CDTS testing in 2016. After formally announcing their partnership at the 2016 National Tuna Congress, the partners continued to further CDT plans for the learning site, begin drafting supporting Sustainable Fisheries Management Plans to support new fisheries management planning, and conduct labor and gender studies to assess human welfare priorities at the site. USAID Oceans conducted a Value Chain Analysis of the site’s tuna fisheries, a CDT Gaps Analysis and complementary studies to fully assess the port’s priority needs and considerations for the CDTS.
After holding a series of consultation and planning meetings, USAID Oceans and BFAR developed the CDTS architecture and determined that the system interface software would be developed internally by BFAR staff. In June 2017, the planning, requirement analysis and initial system design of the CDTS was completed at the first of a series of Development Camps. From June to August, a team of 15 developers worked to create the software in partnership with USAID Oceans. Development Camps continued to guide the team and train them in the Agile Scrum Development methodology—an approach that enables highly-adaptive software created from the bottom-up. The CDTS has been developed to be part of a larger network of the Philippines’ national information systems, all connected through a centralized database or Data Exchange (DEX).
After concluding the Development Camps, BFAR and USAID Oceans unveiled the back-end of the CDTS—the interface that will allow system users to input traceability data throughout the supply chain. System Users include the Fishing Vessel Operator, Fisheries Officer (a BFAR-appointed port inspector), Vessel Monitoring System Operator, Processing Company Representative, and the Evaluator, Endorser and Approver who evaluate, validate and sign the product’s final Catch Certificate. With Users at each point in the seafood product’s supply chain, the system rolls up all required forms into one central interface and location, including the Fishing Logsheet, Catch Origin Landing Declaration (COLD), the Fish Unloading Monitoring Form, and the Catch Certification. In addition to capturing the data required for each, the system also intakes required supporting documentation. The Catch Certificate, for example, requires uploads of the Bill of Lading, Export Declaration, Certificate of Clearance, and Fisheries Certificate of Origin (required by NOAA).
Currently, data entry is available via desktop entry to the web server. BFAR and USAID Oceans are completing the design of the Mobile Application which will allow data to be entered in the field, with local storage that is uploaded and synced to the main server as connectivity is available.
With the system developed, BFAR and USAID Oceans are preparing to begin deploying the system in the General Santos City Fish Port for use by first-mover companies who have agreed to test initial data entry and user experience. BFAR and USAID Oceans will continue to hold Development Camps in the coming months to further the system’s capabilities and make updates that result from in-field testing.
The BFAR Electronic Catch Documentation and Traceability System (CDTS) will be seamlessly connected with other existing national fisheries information databases through a centralized database, or Data Exchange (DEX). The centralized server will facilitate transparent fisheries information that can be used for fisheries management planning as well as regulatory and policy decisions.
The CDTS enables credentialed users to easily log in via desktop or mobile application to enter and access supply chain data.
A BFAR staff members guides the USAID Oceans team, along with a USAID Oceans Technical Working Group representative from Malaysia, through the General Santos City Fishing Port. The group examines a paper form that is currently completed in port by hand. The new CDTS will allow easy electronic entry of data to a centralized database.