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New Mobile App Helps Anglers Know Where to Go
Saltwater Recreational Fishing
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Planning a recreational fishing trip involves more than just checking the water and weather conditions. It also requires knowing the fishing regulations. For Harry Carpenter, a long-time southern California saltwater angler, navigating the network of marine protected areas meant visiting a number of government websites and referring to printed state and federal rulebooks. He thought there must be an easier way.
Last year, Carpenter launched a free mobile app called FishAlerts! to put accurate information about marine protected area (MPA) boundaries at anglers’ fingertips. In 2014, his company—Great Outdoors Mobile, Inc.—was awarded a grant through the Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund to enhance the functionality of the app.
The FishAlerts! app allows anglers to accurately view their location on a map in relation to MPA boundaries. “Anglers want to fish safely and abide by the rules, but there are no lines in the ocean,” says Carpenter. “Using the latest technology, we’re allowing anglers to access this critical NOAA information on their cell phone or tablet from their home, dock or boat.”
FishAlerts! aims to be a one-stop-shop for anglers. The app pulls in NOAA weather and tide data to improve trip planning. It also boasts Facebook and Twitter integration, which makes it easy to upload pictures of your catch to the most widely used social networks.
Currently, the 18,000 users of FishAlerts! can see their location relative to all marine protected areas. As part of the Hollings grant from NOAA, FishAlerts! is expanding its capability to add new layers of state and federal regulations, such as size and catch limits. This new functionality is being beta-tested in three of the most popular fishing states with National Marine Sanctuaries– Massachusetts, Florida, and California – and could be available for all states in the next couple of years.
“Anglers probably don’t even realize how much they rely on NOAA data,” says Carpenter. “FishAlerts! makes this information more accessible and, in the process, helps make them better fishermen and stewards of the resource.”