Laura Milstead, Administration Officer with the MMO North Shields coastal office tells us about the valuable work of MMO coastal data entry teams.
Welcome to the wonderful world that is affectionately known on the coast as Fishing Activity Data, or to give it its proper title…Data Entry. This title is very much misleading as it no longer truly involves purely data entry; we undertake all forms of data collection, verification, collation and correction…along with investigation of data, what is missing etc. whilst also assisting the enforcement guys and gals.
Fishing Activity Data
We are a quiet and unassuming section of the MMO but the work we do is more important than you would first think. It is a wide and varied, but often misunderstood role. From the day to day inputting of paper logs received at the office directly from the skippers or sent to us in the post, to the checking and correcting of electronic logs, from matching up sales notes/logs, deciphering the bits that don’t make sense, guiding the Marine Enforcement Officers toward the buyers to chase up sales notes, to the end of year deadline for our Statistics team and everything else in between…it really is all going on at the coast.
Throughout the year different coastal offices have different periods for busy fisheries, for example; our team at North Shields are just coming to the tail end of our extremely busy Nephrop season, this runs from around September until March. This is when our usual fleet go out in the pursuit of NEP gold but are joined by many, many visitors from the Scottish fleet as well as from Ireland.
The workload for our staff can sometimes triple or more as we deal with the tide of data coming in. The volume of visitors we have during this time is astonishing; the staff work very hard to keep on top of everything that comes to make sure that it is all done within the agreed service level, but without dropping quality. In addition we have a regular fleet of Anglo Dutch and Anglo Spanish vessels all year round that come with their own unique requirements.
We work closely with the agents in the Producer Organisations to make sure that the figures are in and accurate. The Dutch and Spanish vessels never land in our ports so we work alongside Marine Scotland when trips overlap and the Welsh Government will get in touch when the vessels are due to land in their ports for any enforcement issues.
Adding to this, our Nephrop season falls at a time when all end of year figures are due, these are required by our Statistics team for the European Commission report. Working on data entry on the coast is therefore a difficult balance between many different priorities – but we are more than up to the task.
It is a constant juggling act of prioritising the requests from Stats and management when they ask us to concentrate on particular areas, updating the Marine Officers on where the gaps are so they can liaise with merchants and skippers for missing logs or sales notes but also maintaining a handle on our daily work load too.
This season was our best season yet, but with hard work, co-operation and dedication we were able to nail the figures for the end of year deadline. To put it into perspective, the Northern Marine Area dealt with 19,453 landings from its local fleet and 2,177 landings from visiting vessels in 2016, equating to a total of 13,664 tonnes of catch. Whilst maintaining the Anglo Dutch and Anglo Spanish work load.
This was truly a team effort and it was great to see everyone working alongside one another to get the job done. Assisting in any way necessary and being on hand to offer support during this high pressure period. We are very lucky in that we have a very small and close team here, nothing is too much for anyone and help is always there for if and when you need it. This same scenario is played out round the coast throughout the year with all the staff pulling together to get the job done in preparation for the end of year and keeping the data flowing.
Our priority is making sure the data quality is high and the work gets done with the minimum of fuss…we are small but we are mighty and we always get it done.