Aerial flight methodology to estimate and monitor trends in fishing effort on Delaware artificial reef sites
From 1997 to 2004, a randomized aerial flight survey was conducted to estimate fishing effort on Delaware's 11 permitted artificial reef sites. A 35 wk period was selected, between April and November, for this survey, based on the seasonality of fishing for Delaware's primary reef fish tautog (Tautoga onita L.) and black sea bass (Centropristes striatus L.). A small, high wing position aircraft was used to conduct one "weekday" and one "weekend" day flight each week. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was used to locate each reef and the number of vessels was counted visually. Flight start times (0900, 1300, and 1700 hrs) and direction (N–S, S–N) were randomized. Local weather data, including rain and wind events were regressed against the instantaneous vessel count data to estimate annual angler and vessel trip effort for each reef site. The NOAA Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey data (MRFSS) for Delaware were used to determine the mean number of anglers for each type of vessel. Trends in the data over the 1997–2004 period are presented. This survey effectively monitors trends in total fishing effort at Delaware's reef sites. Differences in angler use among reef sites provide a feedback loop upon which future reef development decisions can be based.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 2006
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