Esri’s digital mapping system empowers Inland Fisheries Ireland to safeguard marine fish stocks

Esri Ireland, the market leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), is announcing that its digital mapping system is being used by Inland Fisheries Ireland and the sea angling community in Ireland to help safeguard fish populations and protect marine ecosystems. Esri’s ArcGIS system supports the Irish Marine Recreational Angling Survey (IMREC) which aims to estimate sea anglers’ catches in Ireland. Up to 250,000 recreational sea anglers are active along the 3,000km of Irish coastline annually.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is Ireland’s state agency for protecting, managing and conserving inland fisheries and sea angling resources. To meet its EU data collection requirements around species, locations, and volumes of fish caught annually in European waters, Inland Fisheries Ireland saw a need for a collaborative approach to collate its own data with self-reporting by recreational sea anglers.

Turning anglers into citizen scientists, Esri’s Survey123 app has transformed reporting and enables anglers around Ireland to gather and upload real-time information from any device about the fish they catch and release. This information is then automatically transferred to a shared repository, called ArcGIS Hub, where it can be easily viewed by the anglers and monitored by Inland Fisheries Ireland to identify patterns in the species distribution, volumes and weight of fish caught, and estimated catch rates. Whether they are shore anglers, small boat anglers or charter boat anglers, each member has access to a personalised dashboard where they can track their own contributions and angling successes.

Inland Fisheries Ireland has greater control over and confidence in the accuracy and consistency of the data collected, and the system encourages anglers to play an active role in helping to conserve Ireland’s fish stocks. Data is aggregated for reporting and the system minimises manual data entry, is scalable and can grow with the scheme. The EU is particularly interested in data on cod, pollock, sharks, rays, sea bass and highly migratory species such as tuna, but the solution can be configured to capture data on other species too, giving Inland Fisheries Ireland flexibility for the future.

The state agency had success recently using Esri’s ArcGIS system to enable accurate reporting for a catch, tag and release programme for the critically endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna.

William Roche, Senior Research Officer at Inland Fisheries Ireland:ArcGIS will enable us to recruit anglers as citizen scientists and crowdsource the large volume of data that we require for EU and national reporting. With more anglers collecting data, we will be able to build up a better picture of the state of fish stocks off Ireland’s coast, particularly for anglers. “The personalised dashboards will help to make the recording of data a habitual activity for anglers. We hope they will enjoy entering their catch data and take pride in their role as observers and stewards of Ireland’s fish stocks.” 

Schalk Van Lill, Customer Success Manager, Esri Ireland: “We are delighted to work with Inland Fisheries Ireland on this project and enable the ongoing monitoring and safeguarding of fish populations. Our GIS solution has provided Inland Fisheries Ireland with a feasible and affordable way to capture additional data to complement the other data collected for the EU. “Citizen science like this provides broad spatial coverage all around the coastline of Ireland, enabling Inland Fisheries Ireland to efficiently comply with requirements. The solution can be easily scaled up to accept data uploads from more and more participants, allowing Inland Fisheries Ireland to expand the scheme over time.”

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