FishSmart Program

FishSmart Workshops Help Solve Fishing Challenges

Providing Recreational Fishermen with the Opportunity to Improve their Catch through Collaboration
Approximately 324 million saltwater fish were caught by anglers in 2011 with 62% of those being returned to the water. This means that anglers are catching lots of fish but they’re also throwing many of them back. Through a program called FishSmart, anglers and NOAA are looking for ways to make sure more of those released fish survive. More fish means healthier fisheries and more fishing opportunities for anglers.

What is FishSmart?
FishSmart is the next step in the evolution of growing the sport of fishing. It brings together anglers, scientists, and managers through a series of workshops to find ways to fish smarter and promote conservation. Supported by NOAA during the past two years, FishSmart uses a collaborative, proactive approach to address fishing mortality while enhancing the fishing experience.

Why is this important?

The increasing pressure on marine ecosystems from growing coastal populations, biological limits of fish stocks, and conservation mandates are driving the need for innovative management approaches to assure high-quality recreational fisheries. Shrinking the footprint of individual anglers on the environment by reducing and avoiding release mortality is one such approach. More fishermen are voluntarily using catch-and-release techniques, and there are also many management measures requiring anglers to release fish—both of these result in a need to minimize post-release mortality.

Important Commitment to Anglers
As part of the Recreational Saltwater Fishing Action Agenda, NOAA is committed to working with the angling community to promote conservation. Anglers came to us with the FishSmart idea at the 2010 Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit hosted by NOAA. After that summit, we made FishSmart a centerpiece of our Action Agenda.

There are a series of region-specific FishSmart workshops planned for 2012. The first workshop in Florida (April 11-13) will focus on the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic fisheries. There are two more workshops planned for 2012:  one in Portland, Oregon, in May, which will focus on recreational fisheries of the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii, and another workshop focusing on the fisheries of the northeast and mid-Atlantic (date and location to be determined). Workshop attendees will put their heads together and discuss best angler practices, equipment ideas, provide guidance to management bodies, and identify gaps in current scientific knowledge about safe catch-and-release techniques.
Promoting Responsible Stewardship

By encouraging careful fishing and use of proper release techniques, millions of fish released today can survive to improve the fisheries of tomorrow. In some heavily fished fisheries, increasing the survival of released fish will be essential to maintaining fishing opportunities and a healthy fish population. If you are part of the recreational fishing community, you know that fishing as a sport is being held to higher standards and greater scrutiny in today’s world. The FishSmart partnership is helping bring industry, government, and anglers together to promote responsible stewardship of fishery resources.