Data Collection and Surveys

Division staff conduct studies and gather data that help the Department make better management decisions. A brief description of each study is listed below. Please click on the name of the study for more details.

American Eel Monitoring Survey

  • Objective: Monitors the abundance, size, and age of yellow stage American eels in coastal Georgia as mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Eel.
  • Duration: Winter, Spring
  • Gear: Eel traps
  • Locations: Altamaha River
  • Effort: January, February, March

Coastal Longline Survey

  • Objective: Develops index of abundance for adult red drum and sharks
  • Duration: June through December
  • Gear: Half-mile longline with 60 circle-hooks set for 30 minutes
  • Locations: Atlantic Ocean offshore Georgia
  • Effort: 35 gear deployments per 6 weeks from June through December 

Commercial Fisheries Statistics Program

  • Objective: Gathers catch, effort, and economic information for commercial fishing trips landing seafood in Georgia
  • Duration: All year
  • Method: Harvesters and dealers report landings data electronically and on paper forms 
  • Locations: Coastwide
  • Effort: 100% coverage of commercial fishing trips landing seafood in Georgia  

Cooperative Angler Tagging Project

  • Objective: Enlists and trains recreational anglers to tag species of concern to gather information on growth, habitat preference, and movement
  • Duration: All year
  • Method: Recreational anglers (hook and line) are trained in proper fish handling and tagging techniques.
  • Locations: Participants live throughout Georgia
  • Effort: Three priority species – black drum, red drum, and tripletail- with no set goal for level of angler participation

Ecological Monitoring Survey (Large Trawl Survey)

  • Objective: Monitors abundance and size of estuarine fish and invertebrates. Information from this survey is used to open and close fishing seasons for shrimp and blue crabs and provide regional fisheries management advice on relative abundance on juvenile fish stocks.
  • Duration: All year
  • Gear: 40 ft otter trawl.
  • Locations: Six estuarine systems: Wassaw, Ossabaw, Sapelo, St. Simons, St. Andrew, Cumberland
  • Effort: 37 gear deployments per month.

Fish Ageing Laboratory

  • Objective: Collects, processes, evaluates, and preserves ageing structures from priority fish species
  • Methods: Anatomical structures are evaluated using established procedures with the aid of a computer-based image analysis system.
  • Effort: Determines age for all samples collected in previous fiscal year

Fish Tissue Contaminant Sampling

  • Objective: Collects tissues samples in cooperation with GADNR Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to develop fish consumption recommendations & advisories. Click this link to learn more about and download the EPD Fish Consumption Guidelines.
  • Duration: September to August for general contaminants; September through December for mercury trend
  • Gears: Hook-and-line, trawls, gill nets, trammel nets
  • Species: General Contaminants = Recreational and commercially harvested species. Mercury = Spotted Seatrout
  • Locations: General contaminants = Site specific, varies annually. Mercury trend = Three estuaries samples each year (Wassaw, Altamaha & St. Andrews)
  • Effort: General contaminants - Minimum of three composites of 5 similarly sized fish for each species and area (15 total).  Mercury - 20-30 fish per year (Spotted Seatrout).

Marine Sportfish Carcass Recovery Project

  • Objective: Collects basic biological information (length and age) from fish caught by recreational anglers
  • Duration: All year
  • Method: Recreational fishers deposit carcasses of filleted fish in chest freezers located at marinas and other fishing access points.
  • Locations: Coastwide
  • Effort: 17 active sites (freezers)

MSPHS Fall Trammel Net Survey

  • Objective: Monitors abundance, size, and age of multiple species of recreationally important estuarine fish species (e.g. spotted seatrout, red drum)
  • Duration: September through November
  • Gear: 300 ft trammel net
  • Locations: Wassaw estuary and Altamaha River Delta
  • Effort: 25 gear deployments per month in each estuary

MSPHS YOY Red Drum Gillnet Survey

  • Objective: Monitors recruitment of red drum
  • Duration: June through August
  • Gear: 300 ft single panel gill net
  • Locations: Wassaw estuary and Altamaha River Delta
  • Effort: 36 gear deployments per month in Wassaw; 36 gear deployments per month in the Altamaha River Delta

Recreational Angler Surveys

  • Objective: Surveys anglers and saltwater fishing guides to determine catch and effort
  • Duration: March through December
  • Method: Creel clerks interview anglers at marinas, boat ramps, and docks to gather general biological data as well as catch and effort data.
  • Locations: Coastwide
  • Effort: 300 fishing access site assignments per year

Stock Assessments

  • Objective: Assists in the production of federal and regional assessments
  • Effort: Liaisons with the National Marine Fisheries Service to review stock assessments for federally managed species. Prepares data sets for upcoming regional and state stock assessment.