One example of results from the 2017 MyFishCount pilot electronic reporting project.

Interesting developments are being made in mobile, electronic reporting of catches by recreational anglers. The South Atlantic Council has a pilot program in use for the red snapper seasons, and has released this public assessment of how the program has been beneficial. In a public document the Council reported that:

“During the fall 2017 red snapper miniseason, recreational anglers were able to report their red snapper catches and discards through MyFishCount.com, a pilot electronic reporting platform developed by the Snook and Gamefish Foundation in partnership with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

“A total of 360 anglers created MyFishCount member profiles and reported 341 trips (completed and abandoned). Anglers were able to report information about the lengths and weight of their catch and discards, how fish were released, photos of their catch, depth of catch, and more. Scientists, anglers, and fishery managers obtained valuable information and insights into the private recreational fishery and electronic reporting that was not available prior to the 2017 red snapper season.

“For example, the anglers made the decision to keep or release a red snapper when fish averaged about 20 inches in length. This trend might be attributed to the 20-inch minimum size limit established in 1992, but removed in 2012. The length of released fish is not captured by current monitoring programs and could be extremely valuable to fishery managers. The reporting platform also gathered that out of the 341 trips that were reported, 83% were abandoned (trips where anglers intended to fish but could not due to weather or other circumstances).

“The National Marine Fisheries Service used data gathered through MyFishCount to extend the 2017 red snapper mini-season, allowing for an additional weekend in December. The MyFishCount pilot reporting platform will continue to be improved, based on user feedback, and will soon be available as a mobile app to improve ease and timeliness of reporting. The app will also allow anglers to report other species besides red snapper. The pilot app will be available for testing in February of 2018.”

The South Atlantic Council expresses many thanks to the fishermen who participated in 2017. It certainly appears as if we’ll be seeing more efforts toward developing this facet of fishery data collection in the near future.

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