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Go Fishing for Science!

There’s never been a better weekend to go fishing in our area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites Florida residents and visitors to go freshwater fishing during the two license-free days this weekend, April 2-3, and so does the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA).

License-free freshwater fishing days provide an excellent opportunity for those new to fishing without needing to first purchase a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers, including residents and non-residents. All other rules including seasons, bag and size limits still apply.

If you decide to take advantage of this opportunity, consider going fishing for science. One of ORCA’s most important ongoing projects is citizen science program, One Health Fish Monitoring. The project is designed to collect data related to the accumulation of toxins (naturally occurring) and toxicants (manmade) in fish living not only in the Indian River Lagoon, but also contributing waters and waterways like canals and lakes.

The data collected in this project provides evidence of the degree to which specific pollutants are accumulating in the aquatic food chain – which then may be transferred to humans and other animals that eat fish. It will also provide evidence to support our efforts to localize sources of specific pollutants. Lagoon or connected waterway, not from the ocean. Freshwater targets include Crappies, Bass, and Catfish. Please visit the project page to learn about additional targeted species. ORCA depends on donated fish to conduct this important research.

Participation is simple (well, once you actually catch the fish of course). Simply keep your fish whole and on ice, or frozen. Be sure it is legal and in season. Please be sure that any fish you donate were caught either in the Indian River Lagoon or connected waterway, not from the ocean. Label it with the date, time, and location where you caught it (either GPS or well-known landmarks) and deliver it to any of the following locations:

ORCA's Center for Citizen Science: 2515 Airport North Dr, Bldg B, Vero Beach *Please call first to arrange drop off 772-770-6702

Snook Nook Bait & Tackle: 3595 NE Indian River Dr, Jensen Beach

The Fishing Center: 600 US-1, Fort Pierce

DeBrooks Fishing Corner: 107 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Pierce

Professional Outfitters: 1204 US-1, Vero Beach Wabasso Bait & Tackle Shack: 8456 US-1, Vero Beach

Rigg's Outpost: 990 E Melbourne Ave, Melbourne

Man Overboard Bait & Tackle: 1825 S Patrick Dr, Indian Harbour Beach

Doc’s Bait House: 588 W Merritt Island Causeway, Merritt Island

Do you consume fish from our waterways? Part of the One Health Fish Monitoring Project includes data collected from citizens who catch and eat fish from the lagoon and connected waterways. Please consider taking this survey to help with this important research.

Learn more about license-free fishing days HERE

Learn more about freshwater fishing in Florida HERE

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