Citizen Science Program

SAFMC Citizen Science Program


Produce data that will support and improve fisheries management


Improve information for fisheries management through collaborative science

Program Contact:
Julia Byrd
Citizen Science Program Manager

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 align with the Council's research needs. The projects would collect new data to supplement existing data collection programs and be used to develop fisheries management strategies and considered for use in stock assessments.

Program Goals: 

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 Council research priorities.

GOAL 3: Ensure that 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

Action Team Program Component & Project Support Resources

Program Development HistoryREAD MORE 

Scamp grouper (Photo credit Greg McFall)

Project Overview

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.

The app will be developed by Harbor Light Software with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program along with the Citizen Science Association serving as a fiscal sponsor.

Project Focus
Release (discard) length information on scamp grouper

Project Need

  • 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.


We’re currently looking for commercial, for-hire, and recreational fishermen to participate in this project!

To join the project, contact Julia Byrd ( or 843-302-8439) or fill out this ONLINE FORM to set up an account and download the free mobile app!

DOWNLOAD the App - SAFMC Release


Download the App from the Apple Store


Download the App from the Google Play Store


Click here for more details about the project!


Project Overview

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. Photos for the FISHstory pilot project are from Captain Frank Timmons, along with Captain Jake Stone and Captain Bob Stone courtesy of Rusty Hudson.

Project Focus

Historical data in the headboat sector on species composition and length estimates on fish caught on headboats in Daytona Beach, FL.

Project Need

  • 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 

Training Guide

Training Videos

Training presentation - coming soon!


Training video - coming soon!

Training presentation - coming soon!

Citizen Science Operations Committee

October 25, 2019 from 1-4pm EDT

Briefing Book

Register for the webinar:


Submit Public Comment to the Citizen Science Operations Committee Webinar - Click Here

Read Public Comments Already Submitted - Click Here


Citizen Science Projects Advisory Committee

October 3, 2019 from 3-5pm EDT

Briefing Book

Register for the webinar:

Submit Public Comment to the Citizen Science Projects Advisory Committee Webinar - Click Here

Read Public Comments Already Submitted - Click Here

Want to get involved?

Contact Julia Byrd
Citizen Science Program Manager