Habitat Stewardship Program
The aim of this project is to develop a broad stewardship program focused on Striped Bass.
Stewardship is the act of taking care of something. Stewards are individuals or groups interested in taking care of Striped Bass by volunteering their time and information to reach conservation goals, to spread the word and enlist other volunteers, and to help teach others about the program.
Understanding habitat use is important to conserving Striped Bass, and is an excellent base upon which to build a stewardship program. Striped Bass use various habitats to support life history periods. Different habitats are used for spawning, feeding/growth, and overwintering. As well, juvenile Striped Bass may use different habitats than adults. To understand the spatial (geographic area) and temporal (daily or seasonal timing) use of habitats by Striped Bass the first steps are to identify habitats and characterize habitat use in known fishing areas. Knowing habitat use patterns helps inform monitoring plans, research studies, and conservation actions such as protecting critical habitat like spawning grounds.
Ultimately, through cooperation of stewards, managers, and academics, habitat use patterns will inform conservation planning.
1. Identify and conserve Striped Bass habitat through assessment and monitoring using stewards (volunteers).
2. Maintain current Striped Bass spawning areas through stewardship practices.
3. Obtain water quality measures in areas known to have Striped Bass to compare with known habitats.
4. Identify angling and fishing hot spots and encourage stewardship activities aimed at conserving these areas.
5. Quantify angling and fishing effort and link it to stewardship involvement and Striped Bass habitat use.
6. Provide a means for stewards to compile information on known habitats.
1. Engage the community at large through awareness campaigns and angler/commercial fisher participation, to promote good fishing practices and spread education messages particular to Striped Bass, but also for the ecosystem.
2. Enlist stewards to contribute information on fishing practices and fishing areas, and provide catch records (and tag reports) from these areas.
3, Build a Citizen Science stewardship fisheries network to support long-term habitat use monitoring.
4. Provide tools such as log books to anglers and commercial fishers to record fishing activities, catches, and fishing effort (e.g. number of other fishers in the area during a fishing trip, and number of hours fishing).
5. Provide a means to report catch records and disseminate this information back to the community.
Several commercial fishers and many recreational anglers are engaged in our program. The Shubenacadie River Commercial Fishermans Association, and weir fishers Darren Porter, Wayne Linkletter, and Gerry Taylor have all contributed catch records and tag returns. Along with commercial fishers, we have built a stewardship fisheries network of recreational anglers that have contributed tremendously to catch records, tag reports, and completing surveys on where, when, and how they fish.
Currently we are compiling about six years of data on this program, building new tools like fishing phone apps, and revamping our tag reporting/catch records database and website www.trackmyfish.ca to provide a centralized hub for the long-term monitoring of Striped Bass habitat use, and contribute to our other research areas.
This project was funded by the Canadian Government through the Environment Canada Habitat Stewardship Program. This program helps conserve species at risk throughout Canada.