Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Since 1995, the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program (VGFTP) has collected data for recreationally important marine fishes in cooperation with skilled volunteers. These trained anglers tagged more than 380,000 fishes since 1995 and contributed data regarding fish movement and site fidelity patterns of species captured and released in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastal waters. Over time, the VGFTP has become an important source of data for fishery managers and program data are included in stock assessments for species such as Cobia Rachycentron canadum. Best management practices from the VGFTP show that cooperative science programs that collect data for management should have mandatory hands-on training with quality control mechanisms in place for submitted data. Further, fishery managers, statisticians, and stakeholders should work together to identify the data needs for statistical viability before volunteers start collecting information. Finally, data objectives and project results should be shared with the stakeholders who collected the data, in addition to fishery managers.
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Musick, Susanna; Gillingham, Lewis; Perkinson, Matt; and Teears, Thom, Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program: A Nontraditional Data Source for Fisheries Management (2022). Fisheries, 47(11), 478-481.