South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

SMILE Project

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.

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

Two divers in the water wearing white shirts with the REEF logo on the upper arm. One holds a large underwater camera, the other holds a pad and pencil while showing the ‘hang loose’ hand signal.

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.

A female diver in red patterned pants has her legs wide while holding a large underwater camera.
Photo: REEF

Project Partners

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.

The SAFMC Citizen Science Program

Upcoming meetings

Program Contacts