SAFMC Citizen Science Program
More Collaboration + More Data + More Trust = Better Management”
Improve 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 is the Council Considering Citizen Science?
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 recognizes 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 intends to develop a comprehensive Fishery Citizen Science Program.
SAFMC Citizen Science Organizing Committee
January 2016 - The committee organized the January 2016 Citizen Science Program Design Workshop and drafted the Citizen Science Program Blueprint document outlining the framework recommended by workshop participants for building a Citizen Science Program for the Council.
September 2016 - The Council formed a Council-level Citizen Science Committee to provide guidance for development of the program.
December 2016 - The Council committed to using existing internal resources to support a full-time Council staff position to manage the SAFMC Citizen Science Program. For program information, contact:
June 2017 - The Council created a Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool. Members of the AP Pool have broad expertise and interest in five key areas for program development. The areas include Communication/Outreach/Education, Data Management, Finance, Projects/Topics Management, and Volunteers. To help develop program policies, the members of the AP Pool were appointed to Action Teams in these five areas.
On the Horizon - The five, Citizen Science Action Teams will begin meeting in July 2017 with the charge of developing recommendations for how the Council's Citizen Science Program will operate considering all facets of a program that will support, solicit, and develop fishery citizen science projects. The Council will also pursue funding for an initial pilot citizen science project to test the programmatic framework developed by the Action Teams. Stay tuned for more details on the progress being made by the Action Teams and on the pilot project.
- Learn about the field and applications of citizen science;
- Document and evaluate existing citizen science and cooperative research experiences and examples;
- Learn about components needed to develop a citizen science initiative.
- Develop objectives for the South Atlantic Fishery Citizen Science Program;
- Develop recommendations for a framework for achieving program objectives, considering:
- Research and monitoring activities appropriate for citizen science;
- Funded and unfunded opportunities and avenues to support citizen science;
- The full range of data needs (fishery, biological, research, assess, socio-econ, etc);
- Potential web-based platforms;
- Outreach and education needs, short and long term; and
- Governance, including ongoing staff support, management, and oversight.
Workshop Content and Proceedings
Workshop Content: See the January 2016 Citizen Science Workshop page for the agenda, meeting materials, and other resources.
- Keynote: Fish are Just Like Birds! - Rick Bonney, Public Engagement in Science, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Making Dives That Count – Ocean Citizen Science Monitoring - REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project - Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
- Learned: Use of text message reporting to quantify catch and effort at NC king mackerel tournaments - Scott Baker, North Carolina Sea Grant
- Building Partnerships for Success: A collaboration to design a solution to safely release fishes that experience barotrauma – Sara Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant
- Citizen Science Project Design - Jennifer Shirk, Cornell Lab of Ornithology/Citizen Science Association
Organization & Process of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel and Action Teams
Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool - Purpose
The Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool is made up of members with interest in becoming involved with the development of the Council's Program and/or have expertise in one of the five key areas of program development. The five areas are,
- Data Management
- Project/Topics Management
Members of the AP Pool are appointed to Action Teams, as needed, in these five areas.
Action Teams - Purpose
As part of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel, the five Action Teams (Communication/Outreach/Education; Data Management; Finance; Project/Topics Management; Volunteers) will develop program policies and recommendations related to the focus area of their Action Team to be reviewed and adopted by the Citizen Science Committee and the Council.