Could a Harvest-Based Citizen Science Program Be an Effective Contribution to Fisheries Research?
Citizen Science: Theory and Practice
We surveyed 105 St. Louis River Estuary (SLRE) ice-anglers near Duluth, MN, USA to quantify their interest in participation in a harvest-based citizen science program. This hypothetical program would allow anglers to participate in the generation of scientific knowledge about their fishery, while still taking their fillets home. It would also provide researchers with specimens, mostly walleye (Sander vitreus), to gather data typically requiring euthanized fish (determining sex prior to spawn,
... x prior to spawn, diet studies, otoliths for aging and microchemistry, etc.). Our data suggests that most anglers (96% of in-person responses and 92% of online responses) would be interested in participating if fish processing stations were located close to their ice-fishing location. The majority of anglers (95% of in-person responses and 77% of online responses) indicated that receiving a personalized end-of-season report summarizing the information gained from their fish-harvest contributions would make them more likely to participate. These results imply that the hypothetical program could be successful within the SLRE with the proper selection of locations, advertisement, and plans for sharing information. This study has implications that may be useful for researchers and managers of other fisheries with an ample and engaged angling community. Despite some challenges to this approach, it has the potential to be a legitimate method for acquiring fisheries research materials, and at the same time strengthen anglers' trust of managing institutions.