Oct 7 2011

Can Smartphones Help Stop Illegal Fishing in California?

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When venturing into the waters along California’s 1,100 miles of coastline, at times it can be difficult to determine which areas are protected — where fishing and other recreational activities are restricted or limited.

Now outdoorsmen who carry a mobile device can access a searchable Department of Fish and Game website that maps the locations of the marine protected areas (MPAs).

“In general, whether you’re a hunter or a fisher or anything else, you should be pretty well aware of where you plan to go and what the regulations are that apply for the species you’re trying to take before you ever step out the door,” said Eric Miller, a department staff programmer analyst.

But those who aren’t up to speed, the new website atwww.dfg.ca.gov/m/MPA  has been optimized for iPhone, iPad and Android.

The site allows fishermen, divers, ocean goers and the general public to search for current MPAs by name, county or general area. Officials said the site will be updated if and when new MPAs go into effect.

Through an interactive map, users can locate an MPA and find information about its boundaries and regulations. According to the department, some MPAs prohibit fishing or collecting of any kind — so the mobile site might help users avoid those mistakes.

“One of the cooler features of this website is that you can actually get your location and then see where you are on a map and then see if you are in an MPA, or if any MPAs are around you,” said Aaron Del Monte, a department staff programmer analyst.

For best results, the Department of Fish and Game recommends that the phone’s GPS feature is turned on.

Users who access the site out in the open ocean can track their current location through the site’s map function, with the mobile device’s GPS supporting the mobile site.

But can fishermen actually use the new mobile website in ocean waters?

Read the rest of the story from Government Technology.

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