How We Protect Confidentiality
Along with data dissemination comes the responsibility of protecting confidentiality. The Program strives to achieve the right balance between confidential and available data. Confidential data are data that can lead to the identification of the contributing individual or individuals. Federal and state laws prohibit disclosure of confidential data. The Program uses the “rule of 3” for commercial data. The "rule of 3" requires three separate contributors to fisheries data. This precludes the identity of a single contributor. In some cases, annual summaries by state and species may still be confidential because only one or two dealers process the catch. Alternatively, if there is only one known harvester in a state, the harvester's identity is implicit and those data are confidential.
Each partner is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of its data, as well as deciding who has access to its confidential data. Program partners grant individuals access to their data housed in the GulfFIN Data Warehouse.
If you are interested in obtaining an account to view confidential data in the Data Warehouse, you should be aware that federal and state laws prohibit disclosure of data that could lead to the identification of the contributing individual or individuals. Penalties vary, but most have a range of fines and/or imprisonment per occurrence. Data at this level are known as confidential data. It is the sole responsibility of the person extracting confidential data from GulfFIN to ensure that confidential data are not disclosed via presentation, publication, or other distribution. Users will be held accountable for any violations by the partner granting access.
The Program Partners of the GulfFIN identified confidential data in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast Data Collection Standards using the "rule of 3" for commercial data. The "rule of 3" is defined as any fisheries data that would identify a single fisheries entity. In other words, the GulfFIN policy for confidentiality requires that any data summary that is publicly disclosed must include landings from at least three dealers, three harvesters and three vessels to be considered non-confidential. Each Program Partner is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the data they collect. They individually decide who has confidential access to those data.
If you have questions about confidentiality, please see our Confidentiality FAQs.