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As Rockfish Season Opens, Maryland Anglers Urged to Track Their Catch to Improve Fisheries Management
Friday, April 17, 2015

For the first time, anglers can collect valuable information for themselves, fishery managers, and researchers through Chesapeake Catch
(Annapolis, MD) - With the opening day of rockfish (striped bass) season this Saturday, recreational fishing and conservation organizations are urging Maryland anglers to use a new website and smartphone app to record their catch and share important data about Chesapeake Bay sport fish. Anglers involved in the project say fishery managers often lack critical data, particularly about fish that are released, that they need to make informed management decisions.

"No one has a better idea of what's really happening on the water, when it comes to fish in the Chesapeake Bay, than the hundreds of thousands of Maryland anglers," said Tony Friedrich, Executive Director, Coastal Conservation Association - Maryland. "Anglers know we need better information about recreational fishing. Better data means better fishing, now and for future generations."

Through Chesapeake Catch, for the first time Maryland anglers are using smartphone technology to provide valuable, real-time data to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources about important Bay fish species. More accurate information from anglers will help scientists and managers set regulations that keep species on a sustainable path while giving anglers freedom to fish.

"Good fisheries management depends on good data," said Bill Goldsborough, Director of Fisheries, Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "With Chesapeake Catch, anglers can play an active role in conserving the fish we love."

When recording their catch, anglers can also create a valuable, personal fishing log they can use to improve their own fishing. Chesapeake Catch records and reports information about Maryland's most popular tidal water fish: rockfish (striped bass), redfish (red drum), speckled trout, croaker, yellow perch and shad. All other tidal and freshwater species, including invasives, can also be recorded. Anglers can also upload photographs and record data about species caught, time spent on the water, the length of the fish and catch-or-release disposition of each fish.

"Chesapeake Catch is a unique example of a project bringing together recreational anglers, conservationists and fisheries managers in order to improve our information so we may better preserve and enhance Maryland fisheries," said Tom O'Connell, Director, Fisheries Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "This information is going to be valuable to our work."

Chesapeake Catch is a local affiliate of Angler Action, which pioneered the movement by anglers to collect their own data to inform fishery management in communities across the country. Angler Action was created so Florida recreational anglers could log data about snook catches after a dramatic die-off. The data helped inform snook recovery with managers at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and re-opened the fishery season. Angler Action data is now being used in annual stock assessments and research studies.

Participants in the working group behind Chesapeake Catch include fishing guides, prominent recreational fishing bloggers and other avid anglers.

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