Professional Specialty Groups (PSGs) are composed of representatives from NOAA Fisheries headquarters, regional offices and science centers, Fisheries Information Networks, and state partners. There are currently four PSGs: Electronic Technologies, Highly Migratory Species, Quality Management and Continuous Improvement, and Coder PSG.
Electronic Technologies PSG
The Electronic Technologies PSG works to promote information-sharing across regions on best practices and solutions related to ET implementation. ET PSG monthly meetings alternate between cross-regional “round robin” exchanges on the status of and lessons learned from current projects, and Center of Expertise (COE) webinars. These presentations provide deep dives into specific ET projects, helping to foster communication across regions and among ET professionals.
The webinars can help regions build upon the work of others, reducing duplication of effort. For example, the Northeast Fisheries Observer Program presentation on its observer web portal software helped facilitate the development of a similar project in the Southeast, including code sharing. The Southeast team, through funding from the FY 2021 FIS RFP, will be able to build upon the Northeast program’s foundation and customize from there, rather than starting development from scratch. Over the past year, the PSG focused on increasing attendance for the COE presentations, regularly hosting more than 50 virtual participants representing regional offices, science centers, headquarters, FINs, state agencies, and stakeholders.
Highly Migratory Species PSG
The Highly Migratory Species PSG brings together data managers and users from the Pacific Islands, West Coast, the Atlantic HMS program, and NOAA headquarters with the mission of creating an integrated, accessible Pacific HMS data system and governance program.
In 2020, the HMS PSG successfully completed a project to automate catch and effort reporting to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. West Coast and Pacific Islands HMS analysts and data managers in regional offices, science centers, states, and PacFIN review these data for all U.S. HMS fisheries in the Pacific to generate annual reports. Traditionally, partners captured this information in a spreadsheet, pasting their respective aggregated data into one of ten-plus tabs, and emailing it to the next organization. The PSG streamlined the process by shifting input into a database that automatically generates reports, reducing copy-and-paste errors and improving accessibility to the data. This collaboration also resulted in the creation of an updated, dynamic map of Pacific HMS fisheries. The previous, static version, more than a decade old, was not reflective of the shifts in geographic distributions of various fisheries in recent years. The PSG used the new database to create a map that includes time series animations of effort, and will be updated as new information is entered into the database. This more detailed, timely visualization of Pacific HMS fisheries is already being integrated into West Coast and Pacific Islands regulatory documents and presentations.
Quality Management and Continuous Improvement PSG
The Quality Management and Continuous Improvement PSG promotes and provides resources and funding to implement QM/CI principles and strategies across NOAA Fisheries and our partners. The PSG often works directly with project teams to incorporate QM/CI principles and tools into everyday work.
For instance, the NOAA Fisheries team leading Deepwater Horizon restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico is currently implementing a program-level strategic plan developed in conjunction with the QM/CI PSG. The goal of the plan is to advance the vision of a restored, healthy, and sustainable Gulf of Mexico ecosystem that supports resilient, vibrant communities. During an intensive three-day workshop in 2019 co-led by PSG members and a professional facilitator, participants walked through a series of exercises aimed at clearly identifying specific intended outcomes and creating a set of concrete, actionable steps for achieving them.“We had never spent the time since the formation of our program to set a clear mission and vision with team input that would help us prioritize our ‘must-dos’ in the Deepwater Horizon case,” the team notes. The team also saw the critical need in a fast-paced environment to carve out the time and space necessary to focus on setting and following up on strategic priorities. This helps avoid being overwhelmed by short-term needs to the detriment of the broader program.
This PSG was established in 2021 to respond to recommendations provided by NOAA’s Fisheries Information Management Modernization initiative. It convenes experts across the software coding, design, and development lifecycle to address common challenges related to fisheries-dependent data information systems.