For immediate release
July 16, 2007
Contact: John M.R. Bull
NEWPORT NEWS, VA. - The Virginia Marine Resources Commission wants to know about the saltwater fish you caught and if you threw it back or took it home for dinner. How big was it? What species was it? Where did you catch it? This self-reported catch-and-release information will be posted on-line, giving the recreational angler a broader picture of what everyone else is catching -- and where.
"We are asking anglers to help us to help them,'' said VMRC Commissioner Steve Bowman. "This program will help Virginia anglers to be more successful and will provide VMRC important anecdotal information on recreational catches."
The voluntary on-line reporting system is called the "Saltwater Fisherman's Journal," and it opened for business today at www.vasaltwaterjournal.com.
These fishing trip reports by anglers will be combined and viewable on-line, allowing other anglers to see where the big fish are reported to be biting. The information will help VMRC fisheries managers learn more about the population and sizes of various fish species in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and the Atlantic Ocean.
"What's not caught is important also. If you are out there for five hours fishing for flounder and catch just a few small croaker, that's good to know as well,'' said Dr. Ken Neill III, a York County dentist and an avid angler. "It's all important information. The program is only going to be as good as the information that's provided, so I hope that everyone participates. I will.''
Another benefit: VMRC will get a better idea of how well each of Virginia's twenty-two artificial reefs is drawing both anglers and fish.
Some of the manmade underwater structures may be better fish magnets than others and some may no longer be effective.
Catch and release information from those reefs will provide VMRC with valuable information for future reef management planning.
Specifically, VMRC wants to know when and where you fished, whether it was from shore or a boat, what types and sizes of fish were caught, and if they were kept or released.
Beyond that, anglers may also enter their own trip specific information, including the time of day, weather and water conditions, as well as the type of gear and bait they used.
"All this information should be extremely valuable to recreational anglers,'' said Jack Travelstead, head of VMRC's fisheries management division and the agency's deputy commissioner. "Wouldn't it be great to know what fish are being caught and where and how? This program will benefit everyone.''
VMRC is a state regulatory agency that serves as steward of Virginia's marine and aquatic resources, and protectors of its tidal waters.