Simple identification tools for fish species were included in the FishBase information system from its inception. Early tools made use of the relational model and characters like fin ray meristics. Soon pictures and drawings were added as a further help, similar to a field guide. Later came the computerization of existing dichotomous keys, again in combination with pictures and other information, and the ability to restrict possible species by country, area, or taxonomic group. Today, www.FishBase.org offers four different ways to identify species.
This paper aims to demonstrate the use of global marine biodiversity databases, such as SeaLifeBase and Fishbase, to provide a preliminary assessment of marine biodiversity in the Philippines, where it is at its apex. SeaLifeBase, a joint activity of the Sea Around Us project of the University of British Columbia and the WorldFish Center, is patterned after the popular online database on fish, FishBase.
Fish museums across the world are a repository of historical data on fish abundance and occurrence. These occurrence points when mapped provide a picture of present-day and earlier fish distribution. The accuracy of the map will depend on how exhaustive the museum collection is for the area, and also on the museums’ collection practices (comprehensiveness and survey design).
In order to improve our understanding of aquatic biodiversity, it is proposed that the huge amount of existing data on the occurrence of aquatic species in space and time be incorporated in a single database. Such data are available in museum, collections, research vessel surveys, tagging studies, the scientific literature, and a variety of other sources, often in digitized form. The database would be distributed on CD-ROM with annual upgrades.
FishBase is an electronic encyclopaedia and database containing information on fish, including growth, mortality, distribution, nomenclature and other parameters. The large amount of data in the system now permits its manipulation to test hypotheses related to taxonomy which has resulted in a new subdiscipline called metataxonomy. The development of interactive graphs has provided a powerful tool for many disciplines related to ichthyology and biodiversity.
FISHBASE is a global biological database on fishes developed by ICLARM in collaboration with the FAO of the United Nations. The development is mainly supported by teh Commission of the European Communities. A preliminary checklist of Philippine marine and freshwater fishes was generated from Fishbase. The list, arranged by order and family, includes the species name, author and year, and Philippine common names, mainly in Tagalog. Subsets of this list were generated for fishes used in aquaculture, the aquarium trade or sports fishing, and for introduced, threatened and dangerous fishes.
There are some 27 international, regional and national major information sources for Asian fisheries workers, as well as some 200 other institutions offering froms of fisheries information. Most of the services identified are based on library collections aimed at researchers, managers, students and extension workers. There is much overlap between the databases and a merger of all those relating to the Indo-pacific region is recommended.
The article provides information on how other researchers can actively help the FishBase staff in their data entry through "flat files". The flat files for specific type of information, i.e. common names, diets and occurrence records, consists of one single table custom-made for purposes of record entry by non-FishBase staff researcher. Being independent from FishBase, and yet having a format compatible with FishBase, these flat files serve as links to collaborators who are willing to actively help the FishBase staff in their data entry.
In 1996 the European Union launched a project on strengthening fisheries and biodiversity management in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable use of living aquatic resources in ACP countries, with the emphasis on fish resources. Elements in the project include training, scientific networking and the development of national biodiversity databases.