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Fish app encourages anglers to help collect data

John Zaktansky would like all fishermen to invested in the areas in which they fish. It’s why he and the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is asking anglers to report photos of their catches on the Water Reporter app.

The app allows anglers to report photos of the fish they catch and the location in which they catch them. The information provided with those photos and locations allows authorities to determine waterways which need to be checked for various reasons.

“This will help us get sufficient data to look for trends and finds us a place to hone in on when it comes to water testing,” Zaktansky, the Riverkeeper for the Middle Susquehanna. “The people I talk to on the river, some notice issues in spots and some don’t see a thing. By putting it on an interactive map, it allows us to tap into their resources and their knowledge and do a better job around the watershed.”

The app makes it easy for anglers to report their catches. It doesn’t require an immediate upload at the fishing site. Anglers can take a photo of their fish on site and wait until they return home to log where they caught the fish.

Zaktansky said it’s important to report fish which have issues as well as healthy fish, because the data is equally important. The Middle Susquehanna watershed covers 24 counties and 11,000 square miles on the North and West branches of the Susquehanna River.

While the purpose of the project is to find areas where increased sampling is necessary, the association is asking for photos of a wide variety species and conditions.

“We want everyone to be invested in this,” Zaktansky said. “The water in the watershed effects every single person. This allows each person to be part of the data collection. This is empowering them to be part of what we’re doing.

“People who aren’t as familiar with the river may fixate on the photos they see of abnormalities, but there are many anglers who report catching a wide variety of healthy fish. We want people to get the full picture of how various species in our waterways.”

The process for joining the conversation on local fishing is easy:

• Download the Water Reporter app and create a personal account

• Join the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper group

• From the app, click on ‘Start a new Post’ and add a photo of your fish and confirm the location in which it was caught

• Describe the fish’s health using one of four hashtags (#bodylesion, #melanisticspots, #fungus, #mucoidlesion or #healthyfish)

• Make sure your photo shows any concerning areas

“Most of what we do is based on the stories we’re getting from anglers based on where they’ve pinpointed on the map,” Zaktansky said. “As we match up with other people doing that, it allows us to start taking action. The more data we get, the better the results and the more we can do. But that will take time.”

Here is a link to more info and the interactive map people can check to see where there have been reports: http://www.middlesusquehannariverkeeper.org/report-a-concern.html.

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