OTN Data Policy 30-OCT-2011

This is the formal OTN data policy document which has been vetted through the national and international partners and so will be appended to all draft project agreements. Partners are expected to read and comment on this policy. If there is something in the OTN data policy that is a specific strong issue for a particular partner, then they may include clause(s) in their collaboration agreements that refers to data management. The text that you will see in the generic collaboration agreements will be as follows: "The latest operational versions of OTN policies, templates and checklists for data collection are available online at: http://www.marinebiodiversity.ca/OTN/data/data-collection. Current practice is for the relevant principal investigator and or data manager to download the appropriate spreadsheet(s), enter required data into these spreadsheets and send as email attachments to otndc@dal.ca for posting into a controlled access data folder. Access to this folder by other OTN members is generally controlled by the relevant principal investigator and or data manager. See the OTN data policy for more details. Please note that these data sheets and procedures may change from time to time (e.g. introduction of online entry forms), so please be sure to check back periodically for the latest versions and associated information. If you have any problems, contact otndc@dal.ca". This policy will therefore not be specifically crafted for agreements with individual partners.

OTN Data Management Policy


Dalhousie University is leading a global research initiative known as the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), designed to expand knowledge and understanding of the oceans. The OTN’s infrastructure will include acoustic transmitters, receiver lines, data storage capacity, and various physical oceanographic equipment; marine animals tagged with acoustic transmitters will be tracked as they move through the oceans and pass over a world-wide system of acoustic receiver arrays. Data collected via the OTN infrastructure will be stored in a database (the “Database”). See also: OTN Data Policy Highlights 28-MAR_2013 .


    1. “Data Operator Collaborator” means those parties with whom OTN enters into agreement to manage regional data nodes containing OTN Data;
    2. “Data Use Agreement” means the agreement entered into between OTN and a Tracking Collaborator or other person which sets out the process through which OTN Data may be accessed;
    3. “Database” means the instruments and systems that store and make accessible the information lodged with the OTN.
    4. “Deployment Collaborators” means those parties which OTN enters into agreements with to deploy, maintain and retrieve data from OTN Receivers
    5. “OTN” means the global research initiative outlined above.
    6. “OTN Collaborators” means the Deployment Collaborators, the Tracking Collaborators and the Data Operator Collaborators;
    7. “OTN Data” means the Unrestricted Data and the Restricted Data stored in the Database;
    8. “OTN Portal” means the portal that enables users to access the Database.
    9. “OTN Receivers” means any receiver which has been purchased by OTN;
    10. “Restricted Data” means the data which Tracking Collaborators have submitted to the OTN Database on the condition that access to that data is restricted in accordance with Section C of this policy;
    11. “Tracking Collaborators” means those parties who oversee the tagging of marine life and provision of the data as set out in Section D.2.b. of this policy;
    12. “Unrestricted Data” means all OTN Data that is not Restricted Data.
    13. “Regional Data node” means a repository of region-specific data formed on an ad-hoc basis by OTN collaborators. Copies of the information in the regional nodes are also contained at the Portal, and information in the nodes is considered to be part of the Database.

    1. Deployment Collaborators are responsible for ensuring that data are uploaded in accordance with predefined OTN standards and are submitted to the OTN data centre in a timely fashion. The details relating to the data upload shall be set out in an agreement between OTN and each Deployment Collaborator.
    2. Deployment Collaborators and Tracking Collaborators shall inform OTN of any errors, inaccuracies or necessary updates with respect to data which they have provided to OTN as soon as possible after becoming aware of such issues.
    3. Each Deployment Collaborator will direct potential Tracking Collaborators and others seeking access to OTN Data to OTN.
    4. On retrieval and downloading of an OTN Receiver, the following operational metadata will be made public as soon as practicable:
      1. Receiver location
      2. Deployment date
      3. Download date
      4. ID code of any tags detected.
    5. Oceanographic observations whether or not they are captured on OTN funded equipment, are to be submitted directly (in real time if feasible) to the appropriate International Ocean Exchange (IODE) National Oceanographic Data Centre (NODC). It is there that the oceanographic data will be quality controlled and submitted into the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). All OTN data product where feasible will be based on the oceanographic data being managed by NODCs and GOOS.

    1. Tracking Collaborators shall be entitled to require that access to the data which they upload to OTN initially be restricted to only individuals who are approved by that Tracking Collaborator in their sole discretion (hereinafter referred to as Restricted Data). The terms relating to the restricted access period shall be set out in the Data Use Agreement.
    2. Tracking Collaborators are entitled to specify that the Restricted Data will not become Unrestricted Data for a period of up to two years, which period would commence at the end date of the data collection period as specified in the Data Use Agreement.
    3. Tracking Collaborators who wish to have a restricted access period that is greater than two years must make this request prior to signing the Data Use Agreement. Any decision to allow for a restricted access period greater than two years shall be made by the OTN Global Project Coordination Committee.
    4. Tracking Collaborators who wish to have the restricted access period extended for a period longer than was agreed to in the Data Use Agreement may request an extension from the OTN Global Project Coordination Committee.

    • The following are the processes for accessing OTN Data:
    1. Unrestricted Data

      1. Unrestricted public access to the OTN Portal is generally limited to static information products at www.oceantrackingnetwork.org.
    2. Restricted Data

      1. Those who wish to access OTN data other than what is provided via www.oceantrackingnetwork.org are required to become a registered member/user of OTN and provide registration information including, but not limited to, full name, affiliation, electronic mail address and the intended purpose for accessing the Restricted Data.
      2. Those who wish to access records from the OTN Database regarding individual receiver locations (coordinates) and precise time and date of tag detection for a given tag id which they may have released, must, where applicable, first provide the following release metadata for the tag(s) in question and allow it to be incorporated into the Database:
        1. name & affiliation of principle Tracking Collaborator*;
        2. method of tagging;
        3. general location of tag release (precise coordinates, or a bounding box giving latitudes and longitudes thereby specifying an area within which the release occurred)*;
        4. exact location of tag release;
        5. date and time of tag release;
        6. species upon which the tag is released*;
        7. sex and size of animal upon which the tag is released.
        • * Note: these tag release metadata items will be made public
      3. In addition to the data set out in Section D.2.b. above, Data Collaborators must also provide additional information in the form of detailed project and data descriptions such that comprehensive information can be prepared and listed in publicly searchable online catalogue (ISO19115) systems.
      4. Registered users will be required to agree to terms and conditions of use relating to the OTN Portal prior to receiving a confidential username and password by which they can access the OTN Portal.
      5. Any registered user who wishes to access Restricted Data other than their own must obtain the consent of the Tracking Collaborator who submitted the Restricted Data, which consent shall be provided directly from the Tracking Collaborator to OTN in a manner satisfactory to OTN. Once consent has been received from the Tracking Collaborator who submitted the Restricted Data, access shall be provided on the terms set out by that Tracking Collaborator.
      6. All persons accessing Restricted Data will be required to execute a Data Use Agreement before they receive access to the Restricted Data. The terms of all Data Use Agreements will be approved by the OTN International Project Cooperation Committee, and will include a requirement that a pre-formed attribution to OTN is included in all publications and that an appropriate citation for all publications which use OTN Data is forwarded to OTN.

    1. All individuals who access OTN Data shall provide proper attribution to all Data Providers and/or OTN if OTN Data is used in a publication, product, or commercial application.
    2. All individuals who access OTN Data shall to inform OTN of any publications, products or commercial applications that make use of the OTN Data.
    3. All individuals who use OTN Data agree and acknowledge that neither OTN nor the Data Provider is liable for any inaccuracies in the OTN Data.
    4. All users of OTN Data are responsible for investigating and understanding the limitations of the OTN Data.
    5. All registered users of the OTN Portal are required to report all problems with respect to the OTN Data to OTN.

    1. The OTN International Project Coordination Committee will be responsible for conducting periodic reviews of data management activities in each OTN region to ensure that they are consistent with this Policy.
    2. OTN Receivers represent a subset of the total number of receivers deployed worldwide. OTN will endeavour to include non-OTN data within the Database through the development of partnerships and cooperation among OTN Partners around the world.
    3. All Unrestricted Data held by OTN will be routinely copied to an International Oceanographic Data Exchange (IODE) / Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) recognized facility such as the Department of Fisheries and Ocean Canada for long term archiving. It will also be reported to international biodiversity facilities such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (www.iobis.org) and Global Biodiversity Information Facility (www.gbif.org).

    1. Australian Acoustic Tracking And Monitoring System (AATAMS) draft Data Policy received from Charlie Huveneers
    2. Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans Science Management Policy for Scientific Data in place since June 12, 2001. www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/data-donnees/datapolicy_e.htm
    3. Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) Project - STATEMENT OF DATA PRINCIPLES - www.postcoml.org/files/StatementOfPOSTDataPolicy.pdf
    4. Ocean yearbook 22 – A Known Ocean? Discussions Among State Holders – Ron O'Dor