Fishing is a cultural traditional on St. Croix. Currently, however, there is little known about how many Crucians are fishing recreationally, how much fish they’re catching, or what kind of fish people are catching. In order to better understand the importance of recreational fishing on the island, there are three studies that will be conducted over the course of the next few years. Each of these studies plays a role in increasing knowledge about recreational fishing on the island. The St. Croix Shore-based Recreational Fishing Survey project is one of these studies; the other two studies will focus on boat-based recreational fishing.
Luis Viera is part of the St. Croix Shore-based Recreational Fishing Survey project team, composed of researchers and natural resource managers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). From November 2013 – November 2014, Viera will be patrolling the shorelines of St. Croix in order to gather information from recreational shore-based fishermen. The surveys will take place along much of the shoreline of St. Croix, with the exception of the no-take zone in the St. Croix East End Marine Park and a portion of the Hovensa property. The information gathered from the surveys will help decision-makers understand more about the importance of fishing to people on St. Croix.
Beginning in November, Luis Viera will walk along a portion of the shoreline of St. Croix for a few miles on almost a daily basis. During the course of his walks, Viera will note observations about his surroundings including the type of shoreline and weather conditions. He will also record any activities that people are engaging in, such as swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. If Viera spots anyone fishing from the shore, he will stop to get permission from the fisherman to ask a few questions.
If Viera gets permission from a fisherman to proceed with the survey, he will ask the fisherman to complete a series of shore questions about his fishing experience. The survey will have questions about how the fisherman fishes, what kind and how many fish he catches, and how important fishing is to his household. In addition, Viera will count, weigh, and measure each fisherman’s catch. The information collected from the fisherman is anonymous (the surveyor will not ask for or record the names of any of the participants), and all of the data gathered will be aggregated, in order to understand more about the St. Croix recreational fishing community as a whole.
The information that these projects gather will be used to describe the importance of recreational fishing, and will help decision-makers improve natural resource management for the recreational fishing community on St. Croix.