The Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is seeking help from recreational saltwater anglers in collecting data during the upcoming red snapper harvest season July 8 and 9.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is allowing the harvest of one red snapper per person per day in federal waters at least three miles offshore with no minimum size restrictions during the period. CRD is asking anglers who filet their fish to donate the carcasses at one of 14 freezers located along Georgia’s coast at marinas and bait shops. A complete list of locations is available at CoastalGaDNR.org/MarineCarcass.
These carcasses will be examined by CRD biologists to gather data on age, size, and growth. This information will be shared with regional and federal partners and used in fishery management.
“Fishery management can be a difficult task,” said Carolyn Belcher, CRD’s Chief of Marine Fisheries. “But the more data we have, the better our estimates are. We have a wide variety of surveys and programs to gather data, and the input from recreational anglers is a vital part of our data-gathering process.”
By donating red snapper carcasses, anglers are helping conserve the fishery for future generations, Belcher said.
When an angler or charter boat group donates fish carcasses at a freezer station, the donor must complete a registration card and attach it to the plastic bag holding the carcasses. Two donors will be randomly selected to each receive a $50 gift card to Academy Sports sporting goods store. The donation freezer stations are not limited to red snapper, and anglers are invited to donate carcasses of other species as well.
Carcass donation is not the only way recreational anglers can help CRD collect valuable data about fisheries. Anglers can volunteer information about their fishing trips by visiting MyFishCount.com or downloading the mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play store for Android by searching “MyFishCount.”
Anglers are also likely to see CRD staff at marinas, boat ramps, beaches and other common fishing locations. These staff members are collecting information as part of the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey. The short, in-person survey collects data about how and generally where anglers fished, how long they fished, which species were targeted and other data points. All data are given voluntarily and are confidential.
Biologists will also collect a small piece of fin tissue from harvested fish for a large-scale genetics study as part of the South Atlantic Red Snapper Research Project conducted by University of Florida, Texas A&M along with state partners throughout the region. The study employs a new technique called close-kin mark-recapture (CKMR) that uses genetic markers to identify closely related individuals (i.e., kin), which serves as a useful measure for quantifying the total number of red snapper in the Atlantic population.
Additionally, anglers are encouraged to visit SAFMC.net/Best-Fishing-Practices to learn more about releasing fish (e.g., videos of fish released with a descending device, how to use various types of devices, best practices to release fish). Descending devices reverse the effects of rapid ascension of fish, which happens when a fish is hooked at depths of about 50 feet or greater and quickly reeled to the surface. When this occurs, the fish’s swim bladder, an organ that controls the fish’s buoyancy, expands uncontrollably and can cause the fish’s internal organs to protrude outside its body. This syndrome is known as “barotrauma.” Discarded fish experiencing barotrauma are unable to return to appropriate depths after they have been released and are frequently subject to predation. Since July 15, 2020, descending devices are required to be on board and readily available for use on commercial, for-hire and private recreational vessels when targeting snapper-grouper species in federal waters in the South Atlantic. Click here for more information.
For more information about CRD’s Marine Fisheries Section, or to learn more about how anglers can conserve marine fisheries for present and future generations, visit CoastalGaDNR.org contact CRD’s communications specialist, Tyler Jones, at 912-262-3140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.