South Atlantic Fishery Management Council


Using the power of the crowd to better understand South Atlantic fisheries of the past and present.

Stories of catches told by fishermen such as Ernest Hemingway and Zane Gray indicate that recreational fisheries have been operating in the South Atlantic since well before catch monitoring began in the mid-1970s. A lack of data on the catch and size of fish from this time limits our ability to understand these historic fisheries.

The FISHstory project uses historic dock photos from the 1940s-1980s to document catch and size composition from this time period. The insights from this project will better inform historic recreational data used in stock assessments and help us better understand fisheries of both the past and present.

The collection of FISHstory information is authorized under the OMB Control Number included in the Citizen Science & Crowdsourcing Information Collection page.

Project Components 

Digitizing and archiving historic fishing photos.

For the initial pilot project, retired Capt Rusty Hudson provided over 1,374 photos from his family’s fishing fleet in Daytona Beach, FL from the 1940s to 1970s. We’re now working to expand from a pilot to a full-scale project and want to grow our archive with fishing photos from the entire South Atlantic region.

Estimating for-hire catch composition using the online crowdsourcing platform, Zooniverse.

Through Zooniverse, volunteers are trained to identify and count the fish and people in historic fishing photos. Multiple volunteers review each photo and when there is substantial volunteer disagreement our Validation Team, a group of fish ID experts, help verify what is in the photos.

Developing a method to estimate fish length in historic photos and estimating size composition for key species.

During the pilot project, a method to estimate fish length in the photos was developed using the lumber in the leaderboards as a scale. A team of length analysts used this method to measure King Mackerel in the photos. We will continue measuring King Mackerel as our photo archive grows and will begin measuring Red Snapper. As the project moves forward, we aim to expand the number of species we’re collecting lengths on.

These components were developed during FISHstory’s pilot phase. If you would like to see the pilot project results, please visit the Zooniverse Results page or watch this presentation summarizing the results.

Want to join the FISHstory project? There are many ways to get involved.

Have historic fishing photos from the 1940s to 1980s from the South Atlantic?

You can share your photos with the FISHstory project! Check out the guide below to learn more about the types of photos the project is looking for. Consider having them scanned at one of our scanning events! Find event details below and contact Julia Byrd for additional information.

What we look for in photos:

  • Photos taken at the end of trips, displaying catch.
  • Known year and location.
  • Details like vessel name and captain name are desired.
Want to help us analyze historic photos?

Join the FISHstory project in Zooniverse! If you’re not a fish identification expert, no worries! We welcome all and encourage you to use the FISHstory field guide within the project to help identify fish and provide your best guess.

Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, all of the photos in Zooniverse have been classified. We’re busy collecting new photos and will re-launch the project within Zooniverse soon. Want to be notified when it opens? Complete this online form and we’ll send you an email when it goes live.

Know your South Atlantic fish?

Consider joining our Validation Team, comprised of fishermen and scientist fish ID experts, who help verify fish identifications and counts in photos where there is substantial volunteer disagreement. Contact Julia Byrd to learn more.

Have Historic Fishing Photos? Come to a scanning event!

Share them with the FISHstory project! Come to a scanning event, where we’ll scan and return hard copy photos, gather background information, and share digital copies back with photo providers. Contact for more information.

Advisory Panel Meeting

Crowne Plaza
4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd.
North Charleston, SC 29418

April 24, 2024 from 9am-1pm

Event information

Shrimp and Deepwater Shrimp
Advisory Panel Meeting

Crowne Plaza
4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd.
North Charleston, SC 29418

April 24, 2024 from 2pm-5pm

Event information

Snapper Grouper
Advisory Panel Meeting

Town & Country Hotel
2008 Savannah Highway
Charleston, SC 29407

March 26, 2024 from 1pm-5pm
March 27, 2024 from 8:30am-5pm
March 28, 2024 from 8:30am-12pm

Event information

Not able to attend a scanning event but want to share photos? Or are you interested in seeing a scanning event in your community? Reach out to Julia Byrd, the Citizen Science Program Manager, at

Project Partners

The FISHstory project wouldn’t be possible without so many amazing partners and volunteers. These include our FISHstory Design and Validation Teams, Length Analysts, the Zooniverse platform and volunteers, outreach partners, photo providers, North Carolina State University, and NOAA Fisheries. Special thanks go to Captain Rusty Hudson, who shared his family’s fishing photos and expertise with us, to kick off our pilot project.

The FISHstory pilot project was funded in part through a NOAA Fisheries’ Fisheries Information Systems Program grant. FISHstory is currently funded in part through the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program.

“The SAFMC Citizen Science FISHstory effort to crowd source with our family’s professional pictures was a welcome development. The Stone, and Timmons families are encouraged by the FISHstory efforts to gain useful knowledge from these photographs.”

Rusty Hudson

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