As part of its goal of working with anglers to improve data collection and management of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking for anglers’ assistance through participation in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. This new data collection program will improve how recreational catch is monitored and provide information needed to ensure sustainable fisheries in Florida.
As of April 1, 2015, saltwater recreational anglers fishing from private boats off Florida’s Gulf coast (excluding Monroe County) are required to sign up for the survey if they intend to harvest, attempt to harvest or possess any of the following reef fish species: red snapper, vermilion snapper, black and red grouper, gag, gray triggerfish, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, lesser amberjack, and greater amberjack. Anglers enrolled in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey may be selected to receive a questionnaire in the mail to report information about their recent recreational fishing trips. Additionally, FWC biologists will meet anglers at marinas and boat ramps to collect information about their catch that day.
Anglers’ participation in this focused survey will help improve estimates of recreational fishing efforts and catch for use in management decisions specifically for reef fish. The information gained from this monitoring program will assist state and regional fisheries management agencies in their mission to ensure a healthy and sustainable resource and to maximize recreational fishing opportunities in Florida. Participants who are contacted by FWC and agree to provide information will be entered into a drawing to win an annual, 5-year or lifetime recreational saltwater fishing license.
“The success of this new data collection program not only depends on anglers signing up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, but also, if selected, responding to questionnaires and dockside interviews,” said Beverly Sauls, research scientist with FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “Without reliable information on all fishing activities, managers are often forced to take conservative measures to ensure overfishing does not occur. Information collected from the Gulf Reef Fish Survey will help managers provide optimum recreational fishing opportunities in Florida”.