Flaws Identified in NOAA Fisheries' Recreational Catch Data

Earlier this week, the nation’s leading recreational fishing, boating, and marine conservation organizations released a white paper regarding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s findings that its Marine Recreational Information Program - Fishing Effort Survey (MRIP-FES) may be overestimating recreational catch and effort data by 30 to 40 percent.

MRIP is a NOAA program that provides estimates of recreational fishing catches and trips that occur from Maine to Mississippi and Hawaii. This data is used to assess and manage state and federal fisheries in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Hawaii. However, a recent pilot study conducted by NOAA found that MRIP-FES may be overestimating recreational catch and effort data by 30 to 40 percent. This is the third time in 13 years serious issues have been uncovered in NOAA’s recreational fishery data program.

In recent years, many states have demonstrated the capability of developing better survey programs to estimate recreational catch and effort data compared to MRIP. While some states may not be ready to transition to their own data collection program for estimates of efforts, groups are calling for NOAA to collaborate with states and stakeholders on needed reforms to recreational data collection, many of which were identified in a recent National Academy of Sciences report.

NMMA will continue closely monitoring this situation and advocating for the industry’s priorities with lawmakers and key staff. For more information, contact Clay Crabtree, NMMA’s director of federal government relations, at [email protected].