Here are a few examples where data from recreational anglers could help manage fisheries better:
Information on Released Fish
Information on released fish is important. In some fisheries, the estimated number of released fish is more than the number of kept fish. This information is important since some fish do not survive after being released because they were foul hooked, eaten when they are put back, or suffer from barotrauma (a condition caused when a fish is rapidly reeled to the surface from deep depths resulting in the inflation of organs from expanded gases). There are several factors that can affect whether a if a fish will survive after it is released. Some of these factors include: the length and weight of the fish, how the fish was handled and released, the depth where the fish was caught, type of hook used, air and water temperature, and more. Reporting this information through MyFishCount helps fishery managers better understand why and how many fish die after being released. Click the “Best Fishing Practices” tab for more information about barotrauma, how to properly release fish, and tips for tackle to use to improve survival of released fish.
Provide Photos to Confirm Length and for Identification Assistance
Be prepared to take photos of your catch by having your camera or smartphone out and ready for use. Use your smartphone or camera to take photos of fish that were caught or released and upload them to MyFishCount. Fishery scientists can use this information to confirm the reported length and identification of the fish. If you aren’t sure which species you caught, a scientist can identify the species for you after your trip is submitted. See the “Reporting Tips” section for more information on how to take a photo of your fish.
Remember that a fish out of the water is not able to breathe. Please be aware of the time needed to take the photo and the extra handling stress on the fish when fish are being released. In some circumstances, it will be better to return the fish to the water and enter the information without a photo.
If You Were Unable to Fish
Information such as knowing if people were able to fish during a season is important. When a fishery is only open for a short season, like red snapper, it is important for fishery managers to know if anglers were able to fish during the season. MyFishCount gives anglers the chance to report if they were able to fish, and if not, the reason why.
The Depth That You Were Fishing
The likelihood a fish will die after it is released is called release mortality or discard mortality. Depth can be used to improve estimates of the release mortality. Fish caught in deeper depths are more likely to succumb to barotrauma(a condition caused when a fish is rapidly reeled to the surface from deep depths resulting in the inflation of organs from expanded gases). For more information about barotrauma, visit the “Best Fishing Practices” tab. An example of the relationship between depth and release mortality, for red snapper, is presented below based on information from a study by Burns et al. 2001. Note: Recent studies indicate lower release mortality rates based on the use of venting tools, circle hooks, and de-hooking tools, but a depth relationship has not been created.
As seen in the figure above, as depth increases, the predicted mortality of released fish (i.e. the likelihood a fish will die after release) increases. The deeper you catch a fish, the less likely they are to survive after they are released.