This past year I had the honor of receiving the Atlantic Society of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Fish and Wildlife Research Grant for my masters studies at Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, on improving citizen science participation in conservation research of Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in Nova Scotia. This funding has allowed me to pursue my research goals on a very interesting, ecologically important fish species, but has also helped me interact positively with anglers and community members.
Striped Bass are an anadromous fish species, found along the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States. Within the Bay of Fundy, the Striped Bass population is designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) due to loss of spawning habitat from hydrodams and habitat alteration and continued subjection to many natural and anthropogenic threats. During the summer and fall months, Striped Bass from the U.S. migrate into the Bay of Fundy to feed, making population estimates of our native bass difficult to determine. Without a population estimate, effective conservation efforts cannot be measured. Utilizing citizen science in research is not only important for collecting a greater of amount of data spatially and temporally, but also a lot more fun! Going fishing with local anglers to collect data has been one of the many highlights of my summer.
To estimate the population size of Bay of Fundy Striped Bass, I am using a capture-mark-recapture model, tagging bass with plastic tags at commercial angler operations and alongside recreational anglers. Working with anglers and local communities can help increase tag reports, conservation efforts, and contribute to my research by sharing both academic and local ecological knowledge with each other. Anglers are encouraged to contribute by visiting our website: www.trackmyfish.ca to look up individually tagged fish and report their catches and participating in our programs such as the “Striped amBASSador program” … amBASSador – get it? In these programs anglers can collect catch information, effort, and collect scales for aging and genetic differentiation of U.S. vs Bay of Fundy bass. We also attend a number of events such as fishing tournaments, fishery meetings, and tagging demonstrations.
A more recent event I attended was the ASFWB annual general meeting in Summerside, PEI to present my research thus far and was greeted by a group of great people. If you have not been to one yet, I would highly recommend it! Recognizing what this organization have done for me as a student, I decided to share the positive experience by joining the executive team as VP student affairs.
If you would like to assist me in my research, go fishing, or learn about ASFWB student involvement, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂