FishforLife is a national project aimed at improving the knowledge base and stewardship of our recreational fishery resources. The project will raise awareness about the status of target species, the value of MPAs and best fishing practices and gather new data for the sector. The project facilitates countrywide collaboration between the scientific community, the recreational angling community and ocean enthusiasts in order to capture and collate recreational angling data, record species sightings and collect historical species images. More specifically, the FishforLife project objectives are:
- To establish a network of active citizen scientists by providing opportunities for recreational fishers to improve the knowledge of the conservation status of recreationally targeted fish species.
- To raise awareness about threatened linefish species, drawing from the IUCN global and National Redlists, and the role of MPAs in protecting these species.
- To inspire anglers to contribute information on species defined as “data deficient”. Examples of popular recreational species that are data deficient include bonefish, santer and several kingfish species.
- To empower recreational anglers by providing them with access to a comprehensive knowledge base.
- To provide a comprehensive platform to pilot innovative recreational catch data monitoring systems, including the co-ordination of existing projects that contribute towards the goals of FishforLife.
FishforLife Citizen Science components
There are three sub-projects through which recreational fisheries information will be captured, namely: CatchReport, Fishtory and the Sea Fish Atlas. These three platforms fall under the umbrella FishforLife project and allow recreational fishers and ocean enthusiasts to collect and record different types of information. A brief summary of each of the sub-projects is provided below:
- CatchReport: CatchReport mainly seeks to collect catch and effort data from recreational fishers at fishing competitions. However, it also provides the opportunity to individual anglers to log their social fishing catch information. The CatchReport platform is compatible with mobile devices and therefore enables fishers to log their catches anywhere, anytime. CatchReport will also allow recreational fishers to access their stored catch data and view their previous fishing activities, acting like an online log book.
- Sea Fish Atlas: Sea Fish Atlas, currently being run through the iSpot website, allows ocean lovers, divers and recreational fishers to record any fish sightings and share it with fellow enthusiasts. Citizen scientists will submit observations in the form of photographs coupled with the date and location of their sightings. This platform is being used to contribute to a National Fish Atlas driven by SANBI with the aim of mapping marine fish distribution in South Africa.
- Fishtory: Fishtory aims to collect an array of historical and contemporary photographs of linefish species as well as other historical linefish data sources such as angler diaries. This information, when combined with catch records from magazine and newspaper articles, will be used to develop a historical database of measurements such as typical catch size and distribution. Ultimately, Fishtory will provide unique insights into the past that will help managers secure the future of our fish.