E3P major, Erin Spencer receives 2019 Impact Award

Each year, The Graduate School honors graduate students in programs throughout our University for their powerful discoveries that contribute to a better future for people and communities in North Carolina. The longstanding Impact Award, made possible through the generous support of the Graduate Education Advancement Board, recognizes discoveries with a direct impact on our state in the present time.

Environment, Ecology and Energy Program graduate student Erin Spencer is a 2019 Impact Award winner for her ongoing research into Improving Red Snapper Management, Seafood Labeling in North Carolina

Fishers, consumers and fisheries managers need accurate information about North Carolina’s fish stocks to develop sustainable policies. Master’s degree student Erin Spencer is focusing on two areas in which information gaps exist: seafood mislabeling and effectiveness of data collection in recreational fisheries.

Spencer’s first study assessed mislabeling of red snapper, a popular seafood species native to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Seafood labeled as red snapper was collected from March to May 2018 from sushi restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Overall, nearly 73 percent of samples were found to be mislabeled, and North Carolina had the highest incidence of mislabeling among the four states.

Her second study assessed factors that might motivate recreational fishers to use phone apps to report their fishing trips and catches to fisheries managers. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council launched the MyFishCount app to allow recreational anglers to submit data about their catch. In collaboration with the council, Spencer surveyed anglers about their perceptions of electronic reporting. Almost 70 percent reported that they were dissatisfied with the current method of data collection (officials interviewing anglers and boat captains after trips). Seventy percent reported that electronic reporting could be used to support informed management decisions.

Spencer is sharing her ongoing research with key stakeholders and is conducting outreach through social media to promote further awareness.

“Erin’s research, when published, is going have a huge impact on fisheries management and the seafood economy in our state,” said adviser John Bruno, Ph.D.

This post and the text above is courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School. The original post, and additional information on all of the 2019 Impact and Horizon award winners can be found here: https://gradschool.unc.edu/news/2019/impact/

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