Next time you’re fishing along the Gulf coast, you may notice shoreside samplers using a new tool to collect information about your fishing trip.
For years, field interviewers from Florida to Mississippi used paper forms to collect catch data from recreational anglers returning from saltwater fishing trips. Now, they’re using tablets to make data collection and processing more efficient.
The Gulf Fisheries Information Network (GulfFIN) coordinates the conduct of NOAA Fisheries’ angler intercept survey in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. It implemented the tablet-based system on March 1 with support from the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program. (The ACCSP, which coordinates the implementation of the angler intercept survey in the Atlantic, implemented a tablet-based system in 2019.) The automatic transmission of catch data has replaced the manual processing of tens of thousands of paper forms. The tablets have reduced the time it takes to process data from weeks to days—saving time, money, and trees.
While the tablet-based system is an electronic reporting technology, it’s not an angler-controlled app. In other words, the angler intercept survey is still an in-person interview, and the state sampler is still responsible for recording the information an angler provides. The tablets are visible reminders of NOAA Fisheries’ commitment to advancing the use of electronic technologies in recreational fishing data collection. Visit our Recreational Electronic Reporting At-a-Glance webpage to learn more