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Why catching a record sized shark might be the easy bit

Standards 9001 Quality / Tuesday 2nd of August 2016

An amazing feat! A group of amateur fishermen caught a 167kg Thresher Shark off the coast of Cornwall on Sunday (31st July 2016). Thats huge!! An Olympic Silver Medal went to a Colombian in 2008 for lifting the same weight! This team of guys struggled for over an hour to land this enormous fish and get it into their boat.I bet their arms ached as well after lifting it up for the cameras! 

But perhaps the biggest challenge wasn't catching the enormous shark, but convincing the world of how much it weighed! 

Full report on the BBC Website

Before we look into that, if Calibration, Measurement or Traceability don't affect your organisation, skip to the bottom of the page now. 

Right, so why is convincing people so difficult? 

Well, becuase the weight of the fish wasn't calculated with a pair of scales, it was done using measurements; its girth and length. Scales would have been easier becuase they can be calibrated and you can see a certificate that says so. On a small boat though, you don't have the luxury of a pair of scales big enough. Even if you did, the calibration certificate would only get soggy. 

Looking at this through the eyes of an ISO 9001 standard, what is needed is a method that is 'Valid and Reliable

Lets ask first, is this measurement technique VALID?

According to the website SaltwaterFishing, operated by the State of South Carolina, you can measure the fish with the following formula: 

(Girth X Girth) X Length) / 800 = weight in pounds

However, whizz over to the CSGCalculator website and you find out that this calculation is a general rule of thumb and you need more information depending on the TYPE of fish. No, not battered before you ask. 

Is it VALID?  - the method seems to be accepted, so yes, it is valid. The question of RELIABILITY however is open as there is no hard and fast rule accepted as a standard. Of course, the key question is how accurate do we need the measurement to be. That is often determined by your customer, or by the Product Standards you are working to. In this case, the Angling Trust seem to be the main ruling body although I'm no expert, but they do have rules laid out (see http://www.anglingtrust.net/) if you are interested. 

Welcome back to all those who skipped to the bottom of the page. Measurement is a technical thing, and probably one of the most tedious if it doesn't affect you. Doubtless, you've had auditors who tried to drag you into long conversations about calibrated measurement equipment. The good news is that with the new version of ISO 9001, if measurement and calibration is not appropriate to your organisation, you dont need to worry. Just make sure you recognise the point in your 'Context' section of your QMS.  

Adam Faiers