Data and information management systems

Information and data in support of the MEDA will be drawn from many sources. A management framework is needed to make sure that there is a system for tracking and managing source information for the MEDAs and the TDA, so that the information resources for the ASCLME project documents remain available and useful for the ongoing benefit of participating countries engaged in the LME process.

Archiving and long term management of information systems and data sets sourced at national level should remain in national institutions. The primary sources of information for the MEDA are from national institutions or NGOs or their activities. Information/data will not be removed from their original source, and management systems will not be duplicated. For this reason, the focus of the ASCLME Project will be on synthesising and describing information (increasing awareness of information resources), promoting access to information, and supporting the good management and curation of existing data and information (through capacity building and training). The main users of scientific information in the LME process will be managers and scientists from national management and governance agencies, who will need to draw on sources of information to inform management/governance strategy and develop policy briefs.

In order for an overwhelming amount of information to be accessed, managed and disseminated in support of the LME process, a suite of management tools will be implemented. The four core systems that will be used by ASCLME Project participants will be:
•    An extended bibliography (to describe and facilitate access to information)
•    A metadatabase (to describe and facilitate access to data)
•    The ASCLME inventory of new data (to monitor and track new data collected with ASCLME funding), and
•    A Projects database (to manage information about other projects in the WIO region).

Information in these and other systems will be used to generate a series of information products in support of the ecosystem approach. The four core systems must be considered to be useful products in themselves, but further value addition and design is needed to produce specific information products that are required for the countries of the ASCLME Project. Further detail of the four core systems is provided below, and the Information Products page, reviews each of the information products in more detail.

Other projects and funders have generated important data resources for the countries of the Western Indian Ocean. At regional level, there is agreement or discussion with several of them to exchange data and/or resources with the ASCLME Project to better serve the interests of the region. This data exchange is described in Appendix IV (Data exchange and collaboration with other projects in the WIO region). Since this only addresses exchange at regional level, a similar table is included in each of the National D&I plans to describe collaboration in each country.

Extended bibliography

During the course of development of the MEDAs, numerous articles and papers, both published and unpublished, will be reviewed and used as sources of information. It will be useful to participating countries to have access to a database or extended bibliography of literature on LME-related issues, with detailed annotations on the content of literature entries.

Bibliographies should be maintained by a national institution (with offline and online access), but should be ultimately accessible via a regional, internet-based portal.

Input has been solicited from the IOC/UNESCO, UNEP, ReCoMaP, WIOMSA and SAEON regarding the adoption of an existing system OR the development of a database specifically for ASCLME purposes. The use of WEBLIS by SWIOFP and the resources in IOC portals and WIOfish are also acknowledged.

The choice of a system is an item on the agenda of the 2nd Working meeting of D&I Coordinators (Feb 09), after which an implementation plan will commence.


A metadatabase is required for each country to track data sets that are used by the ASCLME Project in support of the MEDA, as well as in the development of national data products. Most participating countries have one or more marine-related metadata portals already implemented. Regional discussion about the overlap and synergies between portals developed by UN agencies in the Western Indian Ocean is already underway, particularly with the Nairobi Convention Clearinghouse Mechanism and ODINAFRICA (IOC/UNESCO).

Instead of developing a new, parallel system for the ASCLME Project, it is recommended that in each participating country, one of the existing discovery metadatabase systems already in place, be adopted as an interim measure (adopted as permanent if successful) for the ASCLME Project. This is on condition that the chosen system complies fully with published ISO and OGC standards, so that metadata portals are interoperable, irrespective of their operating systems and software. The proposed national metadatabase, and requirements for support (if any) from the ASCLME Project should be drawn up in each National D&I plan (see section 9 below). While it is acknowledged that SWIOFP proposed to use MEDI (IODE/UNESCO) (SWIOFP 2003), SWIOFP is now using Geonetwork. National policy on Spatial Data Infrastructures (Makanga and Smit 2008) should also be taken into account.

If an existing metadatabase is used, a flagging system must be implemented to indicate data sets which are a) of relevance to the ASCLME Project, and b) have been entered into the system on behalf of the ASCLME Project. This is necessary so that data inventories relevant to the ASCLME can be generated quickly and also so that work progress (the describing of additional data sets) can be monitored.

In countries where no functional metadatabase currently exists to serve the needs of the marine/coastal community, or where funding is required to make such a system fully functional, this should be specified in the national D&I Plan.

The ASCLME PCU will continue to work closely with ODINAFRICA (IOC/UNESCO), the Nairobi Convention Clearinghouse Mechanism and SWIOFP, to ensure that any targeted interventions that are necessary to increase access to coastal and marine-related metadata are done in the best interests of the region. Interoperability of metadata portals, funding, and participation in the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) will also be addressed at D&I meetings of regional projects.

ASCLME new data inventory

New data will be generated mainly from three sources:

  1. Ship-based expeditions
  2. Shore-based expeditions
  3. Ongoing data collection for monitoring purposes

The ASCLME PCU will maintain an online inventory of these data sets for the reference of all Project participants. National D&I coordinators will maintain their national inventories of monitoring data against a regional template.

The data inventory for ship-based expeditions has been designed and is currently being populated with metadata from the 2008 NANSEN cruises. Templates for shore-based expeditions and monitoring data will only be drawn up at the implementation stage (as we don’t know what the activities are yet).

WIO Projects database

A spreadsheet has been compiled of projects active (in more than one country) in the WIO that have some relevance to the ASCLME Project. This has been compiled by the ASCLME PCU, currently standing at >120 projects. Each country should contribute a list of projects at national or local level to complement the regional list. This will form part of the National D&I Plan.

A more detailed document entitled Summary of WIO regional projects has been compiled, also by the ASCLME PCU, to describe in detail the activities of key projects and areas of potential collaboration along thematic lines. Further contributions to this document are welcome, and regular updates will be made available online.

See also the WIO Projects Portal.