New program aims to engage fishermen as scientists

Fishing vessels near Cordova Harbor. (May 16, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A new effort to engage fishermen as citizen scientists, logging ecological observations and documenting changes in fisheries and ocean conditions, is getting underway this summer, using a smartphone app for logging real time observations from the fishing grounds.

The collaborative effort is backed by the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island tribal government, SalmonState’s Salmon Habitat Information Program and commercial fishing industry partners, said Lindsey Bloom, manager of the SHIP program.

“Alaska Fishermen have been informally observing and documenting climate-related fisheries impacts for decades,” Bloom said. “And as anyone who spends time on the water can attest, the changes are more dramatic, with greater impact on the environment and livelihoods than ever before.

“The Skipper Science project recognizes this and is working to connect this lived experience with cutting edge technology,” said Bloom. “Our hope is that the program can serve as a vital new source of data to help drive us to better decisions when it comes to fisheries management and habitat protection.”

Fishermen can sign up to participate at www.skipperscience.org.