Assessing the Utility of a Smartphone App for Recreational Fishery Catch Data

Gag grouper. Photo credit: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Gag grouper. Photo credit: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

By Ryan P. Jiorle, Robert N. M. Ahrens, and Micheal S. Allen

There is a need to improve the management of recreational fisheries, and some organizations have begun piloting and implementing opt-in, self-reporting smartphone and tablet apps to further that goal. We began the process of developing a methodology for assessing the utility of these apps for management by comparing mean catch/trip values of selected species between the Snook and Gamefish Foundation’s iAngler app and the Marine Recreational Information Program survey. The iAngler data set is used almost exclusively in Florida and is characterized by high spatial variability. However, its catch rates for Common Snook Centropomus undecimalis (medians ranging from 0 to 2), Spotted Seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus (medians from 1 to 3), and Red Drum Sciaenops ocellatus (medians from 0 to 1) were similar to those provided by the Marine Recreational Information Program (medians ranging from 1 to 2, 1 to 4, and 0 to 3, respectively). Self-reporting programs often suffer from biases concerning angler avidity, drop-off, and lack of angler representativeness but have the ability to provide data where traditional methods cannot. If methods to correct such biases are developed, programs like iAngler have the potential to provide valuable catch rate data to fisheries managers.

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