The Taskforce has identified some specific, concrete steps that can help advance these reforms in the immediate term:

  1. The modernization and streamlining of fishery information systems should be identified as a national priority by the incoming NOAA Administrator.
  2. NMFS leadership should ensure that all available technology solution opportunities, including public sector expertise (from the U.S. Digital Service and the General Services Administration, including 18F and the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program), as well as private sector partnerships, are fully utilized to meet fishery data modernization goals. A first step should be an external cross-regional assessment that identifies and makes recommendations based on need and best practices.
  3. NMFS leadership should release a national data modernization policy – formulated in collaboration with states, interstate organizations, Regional Councils and management partners – which articulates key information system priorities and essential technical guidance, and establishes specific timelines, key roles and responsibilities, and incentives for the achievement of concrete goals with the aim of more effectively serving fishermen and other stakeholders. The policy should include updated directives on the use of electronic technologies in fishery-dependent data collection and improved data infrastructure.
  4. Recognizing that an injection of additional resources could both realize enormous long-term budget savings for the agency and deliver an economic boost to the seafood and outdoor recreational sectors, the Administration should propose a data modernization budget initiative.
  5. Data confidentiality requirements should be updated to provide clear and consistent guidance; and access to data by participants, and where appropriate the public, should be prioritized.
  6. NMFS and state agencies should more directly focus their education and outreach initiatives on the proper use of fishery information systems. This will help ensure that key stakeholders, including fishermen, understand how to use these systems, including how to adapt as products are modernized.