The Quantitative Training Unit for Fisheries is a project funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation in the Institute of Marine Ecology at the University of Sydney. The Unit was set up in February 1995, initially for a period of three years. During that time, up to 3 people have been employed on the project.
The Unit was established to improve the skills of fisheries scientists and fisheries managers in Australia in the area of fisheries modelling. Fisheries modelling embraces a variety of the mathematical techniques used to produce quantitative models of the populations of exploited fish species. These models help scientists monitor changes in fish stocks so that they can provide the necessary information to the managers who are responsible for policies for the sustainable use of these stocks.
Course material was developed using Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Word was used to create reference material for the participants to read in their own time. PowerPoint was used to create presentations for projection during lecture sessions. Excel spreadsheets provided the foundation of the practical sessions by implementing and demonstrating the mathematical and statistical techniques used in fisheries modelling.
The course material was packaged into 17 modules, so that training course could be tailored to the requirements of the participants. Most of the modules were aimed at fisheries scientists; some were designed for managers. Courses lasted from 2 to 5 days. Eleven courses were held in all Australian States (except Western Australia) and in Canberra. In total, 127 scientists and 25 managers attended.
Seven of the core modules were developed as computer-based, interactive training packages. These were designed as stand-alone software for self-instruction, but they may also be used as presentations. Macromedia Authorware was used as the software vehicle. and the packages can be run on Windows and Macintosh platforms.
It was considered desirable to retain the training unit beyond its initial 3 year period. A successful application for funding at a reduced level was made to FRDC and the unit has started its second 3 year phase. Two part-time positions are being provided to continue both the presentation of training courses and the development of further computer-based packages.