We worked with the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation to make information with high public interest available online.

Protected species bycatch in fisheries

Bycatch of seabirds, turtles and marine mammals occurs in New Zealand’s commercial fisheries. Government observers on some fishing vessels record any bycatch incidents that occur. To estimate the total number of captures in a fishery, we used statistical methods to extrapolate from observed fishing to unobserved fishing.

We built an interactive website so this information could be made available online. Users can filter the data by species, fishing method, area, year and vessel (see white-chinned petrel for example).

Protected species bycatch in New Zealand fisheries.

Sea lion population studies

There are about 10,000 New Zealand sea lions, and almost all breed on New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. DOC monitors these marine mammals to better understand changes in their population.

Tag-resight methods are used, where some sea lions are tagged as pups and future sightings of the same individual are recorded. Data since 1979 is available on the website.

Access the sea lion tag-resight data.

Sea lion pup production data

DOC researchers estimate the annual sea lion pup production using data from breeding sites in the Auckland Islands.

We created a website to summarise the results of these estimates and make the raw observational data available for download. Data from 2002–2012 is available.

Sea lion pup production data.

Open data builds consensus. If everyone agrees on the problem, they’re much more able to focus on a solution.

When there’s a contentious issue of high public interest, it’s very important for people to know for themselves what going on, rather than relying on rumour or hearsay.

With complex issues, people have a whole range of questions that you can’t readily answer in one report or analysis. An online presentation of those data allows people to find the information they need to answer their own questions.

Making the information on protected species captures readily accessible was particularly important because of the high public interest in the issue. This also reduced the number of queries for the data that were being made to us and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Edward Abraham
Founder and director
Dragonfly Data Science .