Digitizing the Vessel Inspection Process in Barbados


: Adriel Jackman, Dr. Shelly-Ann Cox, Derrick Theophille, Khyle Pooler and Seymour Nurse

Barbados is known the world over for unique vessel designs that promote a rich fishing culture. In 2022, the registered fishing fleet was estimated at 1,156 vessels which range from small open rowboats (less than 6m) that fish at nearshore reefs, to well-equipped inboard-engine powered longliners (over 22m) that target tunas and swordfish as far as 200 miles offshore and beyond. The vessel inspectorate maintains a vessel registry and conducts inspections to determine compliance with prescribed safety standards and guidelines. In recent years, an average of 150 inspections are completed every quarter using hard copy forms that provide a checklist to ensure that vessels are seaworthy and outfitted with the required machinery and equipment. The inspection form includes several data fields that require a tedious data entry process and manual reporting. Ultimately, this gives an opportunity to review the inspection process and create an electronic form to support a new era of digital transformation.

A recent collaboration with Fisheries Division, Dominica supported the digitization and improvement of the vessel inspection form using KoboToolbox. This platform supports powerful and intuitive data collection tools to support an expedited process of inspection. The e-form integrates pick lists to support efficient data collection, validation to ensure that the data collected is appropriate, and skip logic which enables the inspector to focus on the requirements for that specific scenario. In addition, it allows for many types of information to be captured, including photos and videos which are automatically linked to the traditional text and numeric data. The time between data collection and data availability for review, analysis and reporting is significantly reduced. Further developments include testing the interoperability with the vessel registry and the creation of R statistical programming scripts to support efficient and standardized data analysis and the automation of reports. 

KEYWORDS: Digital technologies, vessel inspections, KoboToolbox, automation, R statistical programming