The size of fish is important, especially regarding fisheries management. Length data support stock assessments and provide valuable insight for ecologically and economically important fish species. But collecting this information is difficult, usually requiring a fish in hand to make the measurement.
Divers and snorkelers are uniquely positioned to help address this challenge because they can serve as the ‘eyes of the scientists’ in marine ecosystems. The SMILE project (Size Matters: Innovative Length Estimate) will collaborate with divers to collect fish length data using innovative camera technology. Check out project partner, REEF’s, webpage for more details on the SMILE project. Photo: Daryl Duda
The SMILE project team includes Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s (SAFMC) Citizen Science Program, the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), and Axiom Data Science. The REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project, launched in 1993, has successfully worked with trained recreational divers to create one of the world’s largest citizen science-based marine life databases. The SMILE project will incorporate diver-collected fish length data, through the use of stereo video technology, as a companion to the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project.
Throughout the course of the project, a stakeholder panel will provide expertise regarding survey methodology, species and site selection, and data needs. The data from this project will enhance the information available to managers and scientists for important reef-associated species in the South Atlantic and increase communication with the dive community on fisheries management.
The SMILE project is funded through NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP). Project partners include the SAFMC’s Citizen Science Program, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), Axiom Data Science, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Semmens Lab, University of California San Diego (UCSD) Engineers for Exploration, (E4E), UCSD Kastner Research Lab and The Nature Conservancy California. Field testing of the technology was also previously funded in part by a grant from the nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF) via proceeds from the ‘Discover Florida’s Oceans’ license plate.