In January 2011, NOAA announced it has begun to use an improved method to estimate the amount of fish caught by saltwater anglers. According to the agency, the improved method should produce more accurate catch estimates which are used to draft fishing regulations.
Beginning this year, NOAA will use the new method to calculate estimates for the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico for use in fishery management and stock assessment by NOAA, regional fishery management councils and states.
The method is part of an overall effort to improve the accuracy of recreational catch data collected by the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). The improved estimation method was developed by a team of NOAA scientists and outside experts.
NOAA also released recalculated estimates going back to 2004 using the new method. The revised data will be used by the regional fishery management councils, the states, and other stakeholders in their fisheries science and management programs.
The improved methodology addresses a key issue identified in the 2006 report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, commissioned by NOAA, identified a series of untested assumptions the agency was using to generate estimates based on information gathered from anglers.
The questionable assumptions included the average amount of fish anglers were catching at different locations and the amount of fishing anglers were doing during different times of day.
An essential component of the Marine Recreational Information Program is the National Saltwater Angler Registry. Thru the program, NOAA expects to improve the accuracy of fishing effort estimates by increasing the proportion of fishing households that are surveyed.
Additional improvements that will increase the accuracy of the estimates are being developed, including revised dockside survey methods, testing of approaches to improving data timeliness, and use of electronic logbooks in the for-hire vessel sector.
To learn more about the Marine Recreational Information Program, go to: http://www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov
source: NOAA press release