SAFMC Citizen Science Program
Produce data that will support and improve fisheries management.
Improve information for fisheries management through collaborative science
Amber Von Harten
Fishery Citizen Science Program Manager,
843-302-8443 (direct line)
What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science is a growing field in which trained members of the public collaborate and engage with scientists in the inquiry and discovery of new knowledge. Public participation in scientific research advances science, research, and policy and fosters an informed and engaged citizenship.
Why has the Council developed a Citizen Science Program?
For many years the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) has grappled with the challenge of ensuring adequate and timely science to support management despite limited resources, a multitude of species to manage, and a complex and highly diverse ecosystem. Discussions of data shortcomings and the resulting scientific uncertainties often lead to offers from fishermen to provide their vessels as research platforms, collect samples and record their own observations to help increase scientific knowledge and ‘fill the gaps'. The Council recognized the desire of constituents to get involved and the need to have a well-designed program and accompanying sampling protocols to ensure that information collected through such efforts is useful. To meet this growing need, the Council developed a comprehensive Fishery Citizen Science Program.
The Council's Citizen Science Program was developed over the course of three years with the guidance of a wide array of stakeholders and partners. The aim was to build a Program that would engage fishermen, scientists, and managers in co-creating citizen science projects that would collect new data to supplement existing data collection programs for use in management and stock assessments. Projects would meet the research needs of the Council in order to improve the information needed to make management decisions.
GOAL 1: Design, implement, and sustain a program framework to guide the development of projects that support fishery management decision making.
GOAL 2: Facilitate development of individual projects to address specific research priorities.
GOAL 3: Ensure data collected are accessible, robust, and fit for purpose.
GOAL 4: Build partnerships that foster mutual learning, collaboration, and programmatic support.
GOAL 5: Inspire active engagement through communication about purposes, processes, and impacts.
How the Program Operates
To meet these goals, the Program has developed Standard Operating Policies and Procedures (SOPPs) that outlines the infrastructure and guiding principles needed to carry out the Program. Download the Citizen Science SOPPs.
Program Development History - READ MORE
DOWNLOAD the Citizen Science Research Priorities
This project will develop an mobile application to collect information on released (discarded) fish. The application will focus collecting data on scamp as a pilot, and details on released fish and fish condition to inform the SEDAR stock assessment of scamp planned for 2019.
Release (discard) length information on scamp grouper
- Improving information on released fish and the practices associated with releasing is a commonly identified assessment research need.
- Information on released fish is a priority research need for the South Atlantic Council.
- Scamp grouper is undergoing a stock assessment.
- Lengths of released scamp is not available and would be useful in the stock assessment.
Data Collection Tools
- Fishermen will use a mobile application called SAFMC Release to collect data on the length, depth released, and location of scamp grouper.
This project will document historical catch and length estimates using historic photos from 1940s – 70s from a headboat fleet in Daytona Beach, FL. The project will use an online crowdsourcing platform to build a project that will allow citizens to be trained to identify species in the images. Once species are verified, one key species will be selected for length analysis to document lengths.
Historical data in the headboat sector on species composition and length estimates on fish caught on headboats in Daytona Beach, FL.
- Historic photos from the for-hire recreational fishery are an untapped source of potential biological data for years prior to dedicated catch monitoring programs.
- The species composition and length data are critical to accurately estimate stock productivity.
- There is very little information on overall catch or size composition in the headboat fishery to evaluate assumptions about stock productivity.
- Verifying such assumptions is extremely important for stock assessments since this is the basis to formulate stock rebuilding plans for management.
Data Collection Tools
Participants will use an online crowdsourcing platform called Zooniverse to analyze photos for species composition. Open source image analysis software (ImageJ) will be used to analyze lengths of one key species.
Scamp - Release app
Want to get involved?
Contact Amber Von Harten
843.302.8443 (direct line)