A buzzword in fisheries management issues is “good science.” Good Science, however, will only occur if there is good data.
The Angler Action Program (AAP) was created by the Snook and Gamefish Foundation (SGF), in partnership with FWC Marine Fisheries Management, to get anglers involved with science-based fishery management.
What started out as a collection process for a single species, the snook, expanded to redfish and spotted seatrout, tarpon, bonefish, permit.
Now, with anglers’ help, the program is collecting data on 100 inshore and offshore species.
The reasoning behind creating the program was explained by Rick Roberts, Executive Director of SGF.
“With the threat of longstanding fishing closures, the time was right for recreational anglers at large to stop being viewed as the problem.”
A program was needed to bring recreational anglers into the process.
In its infancy, the program was a combination of an on-the-water data collection form and an online logbook. Anglers recorded timely catch data on the form and then use their computer to upload it to the collection site.
While the form and computer upload ability still exists, anglers now have the option of using state-of-the-art technology for recording catch data.
Roberts explains, “The iAngler phone apps are another step in productive communications between recreational anglers and fishery managers.”
The iAngler phone apps make it easy for a fishing population of anglers who use smartphones to quickly log their catch on the trip.
Once the log is made on the phone, anglers can review their trips on either the phone or on their home computers. As anglers change spots and catch various species throughout the fishing day, they can finalize their trip records while on board.
Roberts says, “The program allows the user to post pictures and comments to Facebook or Twitter right from the app. By the second use I found it easy and fast to log my trips.”
The smartphone app release coincides with the Anglers Count Atlantic Coast Derby, a fishing tournament promoting recreational angler data collection. Information about this and more events, http://www.snookfoundation.org/events.html
The phone apps were developed with input from Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and University of Florida fishery biologists, funding by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, West Marine, and hundreds of volunteer hours by Snook & Gamefish Foundation members.
Data collected in this program fills a critical need in fishery management by providing data on released as well as harvested fish.
AAP collects information on fish relative sizes, numbers, and locations, data that is only available from anglers recording their fishing trips.
The application developer, Michael Christopher, of Elemental Methods, LLC, had this to say about the new application.
“Mobile technology has become a critical component in how people work, play, and interact throughout the world. Elemental Methods has been honored to partner with the Snook and Gamefish Foundation in applying mobile technology to iAngler, a new and innovative smartphone app that allows recreational anglers to record their catch data and contribute to research projects supporting our marine fisheries. Now, the same mobile technology that makes us more connected and more efficient will also help shape the future of game fishing.”