Until the 1970's, most people thought commercial fisheries took the greater
part of the total marine fishery catch in the waters of the United States.
However, catches by the marine recreational fishery are a significant portion
of the total landings of many marine species. In fact, most species of fish in
estuarine and inshore areas, as well as many in open waters, are harvested
jointly by recreational and commercial fishermen.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) is required to collect statistics on marine recreational
fishing.Data have been collected since the 1970s via the Marine Recreational
Fisheries Statistics Survery (MRFSS). Catch, effort, and participation estimates
have been produced since 1981. These statistics are fundamental for assessing
the influence of recreational fishing on any stock of fish. The quantities taken,
the fishing effort, and the seasonal and geographical distribution of the catch
and effort are required for the development of rational management policies and
plans. Continuous monitoring of catch, effort, and participation is needed to
track trends, evaluate the impacts of management regulations, and project what
impacts various management scenarios will have on a fishery.
Since 1994, NMFS has collected annual economic and human dimensions data
from recreational anglers using the MRFSS sampling frame. Economic and human
dimensions data is used to illustrate the impact of different management policies
on fishermen and communities. When paired with catch and biomass data, this
information forms the core components of most regulatory and allocation decisions.
NMFS' recreational economics program assists in the decision-making process by
providing managers with informative analyses of these data.
NEFSC social scientists work with other regions and with headquarters staff to seek new ways to enhance data collection efforts and provide new analyses that meet recreational management needs. The NMFS uses several surveys to gather information on:
- the participation, fishing effort, and catch in marine recreational fishing
- the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the participants
The Marine Recreational Information Program
Many changes are in the process of occurring in the recreational sector. Replacing the Marine Recreational Statistics Survey, in place since the 1970s, is a new program that is currently being tested and will soon be implemented. The Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, is the new way NOAA Fisheries is counting and reporting marine recreational catch and effort. It is a angler-driven initiative that will not only produce better estimates, but will do so through a process grounded in the principles of transparency, accountability and engagement. MRIP is designed to meet two critical needs:
- Provide the detailed, timely, scientifically sound estimates that fisheries managers, stock assessors and marine scientists need to ensure the sustainability of ocean resources
- Address head-on stakeholder concerns about the reliability and credibility of recreational fishing catch and effort estimates
View the 2011 MRIP Brochure
MRIP will reduce potential bias and increase the accuracy, timeliness and spatial resolution of recreational catch and effort estimates. MRIP is also intended to increase stakeholder confidence in those estimates. We can't predict how much different individual estimates for any given stock or wave may be under MRIP, but we do know that the quality of the estimates will be significantly enhanced because the numbers are generated through a newly refined, more statistically robust process.
MRIP is a system of coordinated data collection programs designed to address specific regional needs for recreational fishing information. This regional approach based on a nationally consistent standard will ensure that the appropriate, targeted, place-based information is being collected to best meet the needs of managers and stakeholders, and that it is being done in a scientifically rigorous way.
The basic design for collecting recreational fishing statistics combines telephone surveys of fishing effort with a complementaryaccess-site intercept survey of angler catch. The following surveys are used to collect data that is necessary for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
The CHTS collects fishing effort data from shore and private boat anglers. Because the majority of shore and private boat fishing trips are taken by individuals who live in coastal areas, the CHTS is limited to households located in coastal counties. Correction factors derived from the intercept survey are used to account for trips taken by non-coastal resident and out-of-state anglers, as well as anglers who live in households without telephones. Data collection occurs during a two-week period at the end of each two-month sample period (or "wave").
The FHS was developed to resolve undercoverage of Charter and Party boat angler effort by the CHTS. The CHTS does not capture the majority of for-hire angling effort in most states because most anglers who take trips on Charter and Head (or Party) boats do not live in coastal counties.
The access-point angler intercept survey is conducted at public marine fishing access points (boat ramps, piers, beaches, jettys, bridges, marinas, etc.) to collect individual catch data, including species identification, total number of each species, and length and weight measurements of individual fishes, as well as some angler-specific information about the fishing trip and the angler's fishing behavior.
The Large Pelagics Survey (LPS) is specifically designed to collect information on recreational fishing directed at large pelagic species (e.g., tunas, billfishes, swordfish, sharks, wahoo, dolphin, and amberjack). Offshore trips targeting large pelagics typically make up a relatively small proportion of all recreational fishing trips.
What types of analyses can be produced from these surveys?
Economic impacts are measured to determine the economic activity generated by recreational fishing. We begin by collecting angler expenditures during their fishing trips and also their spending on durable goods throughout the year.
Economic value determines the benefits of recreational fishing to society and how those benefits change when policies or fishing quality changes. There are two types of valuation data we collect: revealed preference and stated preference.
Revealed preference surveys use observed recreational choices to model economic value. Revealed preference data elements are collected when any economic add-on is conducted and are excellent for assessing the value of access, natural resource damage assessment, and measuring the benefits of improving fishing quality.
Stated preference surveys present anglers with hypothetical scenarios to gain insights into recreational behavior and value that cannot be obtained through revealed preference surveys.
These surveys determine anglers' preferences for management options. These models allow managers to rapidly assess changes in effort, value, and economic impacts from changes in recreational policies. Our goal is to cover the top ten recreational species in each region with a stated preference choice experiment (SPCE) as soon as is practical.
Cost and earnings surveys collect financial information from the for-hire recreational fleet including charter, guide, and head boats. This information is used to determine the economic value of this sector and to build better economic impact models.
These surveys are used to address the economic data needs of regional management issues as these issues arise. Special studies include surveys on participation, subsistence fishing, and on-water fishing location choice.
More information on the recreational program and all of the survey instruments can be found
on the NMFS Science & Technology website.