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Fb35 Creels Formatted

Fb35 Creels Formatted

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Published by Bob Wattendorf
Fish Busters' Bulletin about the importance of creel surveys to fisheries management (Nov. 2008).
Fish Busters' Bulletin about the importance of creel surveys to fisheries management (Nov. 2008).

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Published by: Bob Wattendorf on Jun 28, 2011
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07/10/2013

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Florida Fish Busters’November 2008
Creels—aren’t they old fashioned fish baskets?
By Bob Wattendorf, with Jason Dotson You might wonder why someone in a Florida Fish and Wildlife ConservationCommission (FWC) boat is stopping you and asking to conduct “a creel survey.” Twoquestions come to mind. What is a creel? And why does it require a survey? Verygood questions – one answer involves tradition; the other answer involves a healthyfishery. A creel is a wicker basket used for holding fish thatan angler has caught, or a wicker fish trap. Today, we stilluse the expression derived from that old-fashioned, butvery stylish, basket. Somehow we haven’t adapted toasking if we can do “a live-well,” “ice-chest” or “catch-and-release survey.”
traditional creel basket usedto hold an angler's catch.
So bear with us when we ask for your participation. Your answers to ourquestions are important to the future health of Florida’s fisheries.The FWC’s fisheries biologists need to know what you have been catching.Despite using old-fashioned terminology, the sophistication of these vital surveyshas grown over the years, and they are now a critical source of information fordetermining how Florida’s fisheries are doing.
 
Since creel clerks who conduct theseinterviews cannot talk to every angler,biologists and statisticians work togetherto carefully determine a sampling schemeof when and where we momentarilyinterrupt an angler’s recreation to gatherthis information. Each angler asked to participate represents many other anglersthat we cannot talk to, so it is veryimportant that we get the most accurateinformation possible. The interviewer willwant to know how long you’ve been fishing,and what you caught and harvested as wellas what you released. They may alsomeasure your fish, check them for tags andask some questions about where you liveand other information that helps to explain results, including information on yourage, which for instance relates to license sales.
nchor tags like these are often used to helpestimate the size of a fish population.Hidden microwire tags embedded in a fish's cheekoften identify it as being from an FWC hatchery,this wand detects the tag.
This information is used to determine what anglers want to catch, what theyare catching (species, size and numbers), whether they are keeping them, and otherfactors that allow biologists to estimate the health of a fishery. Combined with otherdata, such as information from electrofishing samples, biologists can determinewhat regulations are needed for size and creel limits, what is needed for habitat
 
restoration, supplemental fish stocking, and where additional access, such as boatramps, shoreline access, or fishing piers, may be needed.For biologists to make the decisionsthat ultimately impact the quality of yourfishing, they need honest, accurateinformation. False responses that over orunderestimate your catch can lead tounnecessary or unrealistic solutions. Forexample, an underestimate of anglingsuccess could lead to stricter creel limits (the number or size of fish anglers maylegally harvest) when they aren’t necessary and stunting of the fish populationbecause enough big fish aren’t harvested to allow the others to grow rapidly. In caseof an overestimate of angling success, the decision may be made that habitatimprovements aren’t needed because the fishery is doing so well, delay a proposedfish stocking, or prevent appropriate harvest regulations from being implemented.
creel clerk measures an angler's bass beforereturning them to the angler. This information isvital to scientific management of your fisheries.
Of course, biologists consistently use multiple sources of data to reduce thechance these types of errors will occur. But with recurring budget cuts, creelsurveys and angler-attitude surveys become increasingly cost effective. As otheroptions, such as electrofishing, seining or trawling, are reduced to save money, orsampling, such as block nets and gillnetting, are reduced because of adverse publicperception, the need for honest, accurate answers to creels surveys becomes moreand more important.

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