Could commercial fishermen help gather and interpret data for long-term, cost-effective fisheries management? This project addresses this question for the California spiny lobster fishery, building on an pilot at-sea sampling program for the southern rock crab fishery that was developed by the project’s lead scientists. During the project’s first year, lobster fishermen, scientists and managers worked together to develop and test protocols for collecting different types of data while fishermen conducted their commercial fishing operations. The team analyzed the collected data to identify the types of data most needed for management such as data that capture variations among fishing locations. They then developed a sampling regime that both ensures scientific rigor and minimizes the burden on the program’s fishing partners. For the past two years, fishermen have continued to collect data and work with project scientists and managers to interpret the data, which are being used to inform development of the Lobster Fishery Management Plan. In addition, the fishermen, scientists and managers involved in the project have been discussing ideas for storing and sharing data, and for continuing the program over the long term. To help identify some options, the lead scientists have been gathering information on other similar fishermen-based data collection programs. Ultimately, the group will share results of their lobster data collection efforts, including evaluation of the program’s long-term feasibility.
Integrating Collaborative Data Collection with Management: A Lobster Fishery Test Case