South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Request for Proposals: Citizen Science Program Evaluation and Stakeholder Assessment

A collage of Citizen Science program projects.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is seeking a contractor to study and document the interests, motivations, and concerns of fishermen who might participate in the SAFMC’s growing Citizen Science Program.

New proposal due date: Friday, January 20th 2023.


The SAFMC is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within federal waters (3-200 miles offshore) off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and east Florida to Key West. The SAFMC’s Citizen Science Program aims to work with fishermen and scientists to facilitate and support development of projects to address Council-specific research needs. For many fisheries in the South Atlantic there are long standing data needs and limited resources for data collection. The Citizen Science Program’s mission is to build and maintain an organized system that improves information for fisheries management through collaborative science—that is, fishermen, scientists, and managers working together to gather and analyze data that support fishery management decision-making.

Such a program requires an enthusiastic audience of fishermen who are willing and able to collect biological and socio-economic data as they pursue their livelihoods–in the case of commercial and for-hire fishermen–or their hobby, in the case of private recreational fishermen. When the program began in 2016, numerous fishermen expressed interest in sharing information about the fish they were seeing and catching, and numerous fisheries scientists and managers were enthusiastic about receiving additional data, so long as the information was collected in a systematic and rigorous manner. The positive interest in citizen science among these groups indicated a strong likelihood that the program could achieve its vision, to advance science and to increase trust, one project at a time.

However, preliminary research into the desires and motivations of fishermen to participate in citizen science suggests that many feel that the health of South Atlantic fisheries is sufficiently poor that additional data will not improve fish stocks and ease management restrictions. Some also expressed concern that fisheries scientists and managers will not use their data. These findings, which are based on a small number of interviews with a few selected members from each fishing sector, need to be explored more deeply. In particular, research on the interests, motivations, and willingness of fishermen to participate in data collection must be conducted with a larger sample of fishermen comprising members of the three main sectors—commercial fishermen, for-hire captains, and recreational fishermen.

Role of Contractor & Deliverables

The SAFMC is seeking a contractor to design and complete research that will help to understand the fishermen participant base. Information from the research would be used to design projects to achieve maximum involvement, high quality fisheries data, and educational experiences for the participants. Data about participants also will serve as baseline information that can be used to evaluate the program over time in terms of changing knowledge, attitudes, and understanding of the fishermen participants and, potentially, increasing their trust in the management system.

Multiple ways to study the fishermen audiences exist. The SAFMC has a budget of $40,000 to conduct the needed research, as described above. We seek a contractor to propose creative ways to use the funding available to conduct a research study over a roughly one-year period ideally beginning in the first quarter of 2023. Data should be collected from fishermen operating within the SAFMC’s jurisdiction (North and South Carolina, Georgia, and the east coast of Florida). Data could be collected through online surveys, telephone or online interviews, dockside surveys, and/or other means. A final report based on the findings of the research should be completed by May 2024.

The contract will be overseen by the SAFMC’s Citizen Science Program Manager, Julia Byrd, with assistance from Rick Bonney, Emeritus Director of Public Engagement in Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Byrd and Bonney have been working closely together for several years, and Bonney conducted the preliminary research that is described above. A summary of the research is available HERE.

Contracts & Submission Deadlines

Interested contractors should submit a short proposal for this research—no more than five pages—along with an itemized one-page budget, proposed timeline with milestones, and a cover letter describing the contractor’s qualifications. At least two references of past clients also should be included. Council staff and Bonney will review proposals and request more information as needed. While the contractor can be located nearly anywhere, a familiarity with the Southeast US and its fisheries will be helpful.

The work will require a standard SAFMC contract, and a US tax form 1099 will be issued each year that funds are dispensed. The contractor will also be required to complete an IRS W-9 form.

Please send application materials to Julia Byrd at or mail to Julia Byrd, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC, 29405 by Friday, January 20, 2023.