We developed a numerical coding system that's allowing researchers, industry and government to capture consistent data on marine organisms, as well as the online spatial search tool FishMap.

The challenge

Gathering consistent data

Tools and methods are needed to help researchers consistently and accurately capture data on fish species, particularly when there is limited information available.

Freely available digital tools puts current information into the hands of researchers, managers and consumers.

Our response

Developing a coding system

We developed a database called Codes for Australian Aquatic Biota (CAAB) to assist researchers, industry groups and government agencies in capturing consistent data on fishes despite uncertain taxonomic knowledge or changes in the scientific names of organisms.

A screen-shot from the FishMap website. The species page contains CAAB codes, common and scientific names, images and maps for the Australian distributions.

A screen-shot from the FishMap website, with an example listing of species from the family Berycidae.

CAAB is an expanding numerical coding system that is continuously maintained in close collaboration with the Australian Faunal Directory with the most up-to-date information on aquatic organisms in the Australian region.

It was initially developed to cover fishes and selected other organisms of research or commercial interest, it has more recently been expanded to provide more comprehensive coverage of a number of aquatic groups, as information is available.

We also developed FishMap with the Atlas of Living Australia - an illustrated spatial search tool with data, names and images for more than 4,500 fishes occurring in the marine waters over Australia's contiguous continental shelf and slopes.

Building on decades of research data, FishMap provides users with the capacity to produce species-lists relevant to their area of study.

The results

Setting the national standard

CAAB is being used by a large and expanding number of governmental and industry groups for marine biology and fishery purposes and has replaced almost all other national and locally designed coding systems.

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