Thanks to the Angler Action Program, researchers can use angler data to help map fish populations. The Snook and Gamefish Foundation’s Angler Action Program (AAP) has Reached a New Milestone.
For the 30,000th time, anglers have shown they are ready to contribute to a brighter fishing future.
That’s how many fish the Angler Action Program (AAP) participants have logged since the most recent database upgrade in 2012.
“It was perfect timing. The 30,000th fish was logged about 15 minutes before our monthly Board phone conference, so the Snook & Gamefish Foundation’s board was able to hear the news hot off the press,” said Executive Director Brett Fitzgerald.
To date, over 130 different species of fish have been logged into the system, with inshore saltwater species getting the most tallies.
Snook remains the most common species targeted in the AAP logs but spotted (speckled) sea trout are the most logged fish.
Thus far, the data from the program has been used by Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for two official snook stock assessments.
The information that is most compelling to researchers is the information about fish that are released.
“Those fish are the ones that have previously slipped through the cracks of fishery management. Current data models make it very difficult to get that data in any significant amounts. So for now, that is our very important niche in the data world.”
Fitzgerald is encouraged about the other uses of the data, including possibly adding a new layer of resolution to habitat mapping or showing fish trends in relation to water quality.
For species that have no harvest like tarpon, bonefish, and the recently debated goliath grouper, this data could be a gold mine.
SGF Director Larry Jones logs every fishing trip.
“Most of us do it because we feel the need to help any way we can.”
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Executive Director Dr. Aaron Adams also feels that the AAP moves anglers in the right direction, adding “As catch and release fisheries become more ‘the norm’ and these fisheries become more popular, we need to find new and innovative ways to obtain data that make fisheries conservation possible. The Angler Action program provides just such a tool. Plus, as anglers we need to become more involved in the conservation of our fisheries, and this is a great tool to begin that involvement.”
Board member Larry Jones of Port Saint Lucie says his pride in the program itself is only overshadowed by his pride in the anglers who understand the significance of the program and log their catch.
“It really gets me excited to think about how many anglers feel the urge to become part of a solution, to actually make a little effort towards helping to improve our fishing instead of just complaining or doing nothing. I can’t wait to see how powerful this program and its growing army of participants will become over the next few years, and beyond.”
The program now boasts almost 5,000 registered users, and the number grows daily.
Jones likes these numbers.
“Some of those people log their catches just to improve their fishing knowledge and skill because the AAP is now a very powerful and flexible personal logbook that remains private to each individual. But most of us do it because we feel the need to help any way we can, and this is probably the easiest, and cheapest, way.”
Anglers can search “iAngler” on their smartphones. Their information is protected by a password.
Dr. Kathy Guindon, the research scientist at Florida’s Wildlife Research Institute, says citizen science is vital and serves many purposes.
“As fishery researchers, we often set out to answer a very specific question about a fishery. When the AAP can answer the same question, we are able to ‘ground truth’ the science. One validates the other.”
Dr. Guindon’s point reiterated the fact that anglers and scientists can accomplish much more when working together.
From the perspective of the angler, the AAP is more functional than ever.
Anglers can now set their preferences so most data fields automatically populate when they open them, there are “quick-add” buttons for species you recently logged and a new “Copy’ button to help save time.
The loggable species has been expanded to include all the freshwater fish, as well, and the program also now includes all 50 states and most foreign countries.
The new layout is designed to be easy to use and works great on any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
There is a new dashboard to help manage tasks efficiently and a one-page catch summary layout.