Fishing resources

Ga DNR Coastal Resources Division seeks snapper carcasses for data project

The Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is seeking the assistance of recreational saltwater anglers to collect data during the upcoming red snapper harvest season July 8-9.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allows the harvest of one red snapper per person per day in federal waters at least three miles offshore with no minimum size restriction during the period. CRD is asking anglers filleting their fish to donate carcasses to one of 14 freezers located along the Georgian coast at marinas and bait shops. A full list of locations is available at CoastalGaDNR.org/MarineCarcass.

These carcasses will be examined by CRD biologists to collect data on age, size and growth. This information will be shared with regional and federal partners and used in fisheries management.

“Fisheries management can be a difficult task,” said Carolyn Belcher, CRD’s marine fisheries manager. “But the more data we have, the better our estimates. We have a wide variety of surveys and programs to collect data, and input from recreational anglers is an essential part of our data collection process.

By donating red snapper carcasses, anglers help conserve the fishery for future generations, Belcher said.

When a group of anglers or charter boats donates fish carcasses to a freezing station, the donor must complete a registration card and attach it to the plastic bag containing the carcasses. Two donors will be randomly selected to each receive a $50 gift card to the Academy Sports sporting goods store. Donation freezing stations are not limited to red snapper, and anglers are also encouraged to donate carcasses of other species.

Carcass donation isn’t the only way recreational anglers can help CRD collect valuable fishing data. Anglers can provide 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 personnel at marinas, boat ramps, beaches and other common fishing spots. These staff members collect information as part of the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey. The short in-person survey collects data on how and generally where anglers fished, how long they fished, what species were targeted and other data points. All data is provided voluntarily and is confidential.

Biologists will also take a small piece of fin tissue from harvested fish for large-scale genetic study as part of the South Atlantic Red Snapper Research Project being conducted by the University of Florida, Texas A&M, with state partners from across the region. The study uses a new technique called close relative mark-recapture (CKMR) that uses genetic markers to identify closely related individuals (i.e. relatives), which serves as a useful metric to quantify the number total red snappers 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 downdraft device, how to use various types of devices, best practices for releasing fish). Descent devices reverse the effects of rapid fish ascent, which occurs when a fish is hooked at depths of around 50 feet or more and quickly brought to the surface. When this happens, 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 of its body. This syndrome is known as “barotrauma”. Discarded fish that experience barotrauma are unable to return to appropriate depths after being released and are often subject to predation. As of July 15, 2020, descent devices must be on board and readily available for use on commercial, charter and private pleasure vessels when targeting snapper-grouper species in Federal waters of the South Atlantic . Click here for more information.

For more information on the CRD’s Marine Fisheries Section, or to learn more about how anglers can conserve marine fisheries for current and future generations, visit CoastalGaDNR.org, contact the CRD Communications Specialist, Tyler Jones at 912-262-3140 or tyler.jones@dnr.ga.gov.