This virtual workshop served as a forum for NOAA Fisheries, its state and regional partners, and a team of independent experts to agree on the elements of a Gulf State Recreational Catch and Effort Estimation Surveys Transition Plan. When executed, this plan will allow for the full use of state recreational fishing data—including recreational catch and effort estimates produced by Texas’ Coastal Creel Surveys, Louisiana’s LA Creel, Mississippi’s Tails n’ Scales, Alabama’s Snapper Check, and Florida’s State Reef Fish Survey—in NOAA Fisheries’ stock assessment and management processes. The Transition Plan will include:
- A plan for storing state data;
- Calibration approaches to support the near-term and long-term use of state data; and
- A collaborative survey research roadmap that will evaluate the drivers of differences between survey estimates and lead to improvements to all of the state and federal surveys in the region.
The need for a Transition Plan is outlined in NOAA Fisheries’ Policy Directive for Implementing Recreational Fishery Catch and Effort Survey Design Changes (PDF, 4 pages). The development of a research plan is an imperative step toward a directive NOAA Fisheries received from the House Committee on Appropriations in 2021 to “contract with a non-governmental entity with expertise in statistics and fisheries-dependent data collection to provide the following:
- An independent assessment of the accuracy and precision of both the Federal and State recreational catch data programs in the Gulf of Mexico;
- Recommended improvements to be made to the Federal and State recreational catch data programs in the Gulf of Mexico to improve accuracy and precision; and
- An independent assessment, based on the results of the two prior items, of how best to calibrate the Federal and State recreational catch data programs in the Gulf of Mexico to a common currency.”
- Establish a research plan to improve our understanding of the differences between state and federal estimates of recreational catch. In response to a 2021 Congressional directive, this plan will include an independent peer review of each of the recreational fishing surveys administered in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the long term, research may identify design changes that would improve survey accuracy and minimize differences in estimates.
- Select an approach that will allow state data to be used in federal stock assessments and management decisions. Approaches will consider the data requirements of National Standard 2, and may allow for the calibration of all available estimates into a common currency, the incorporation of all available data into stock assessment models, and/or the integration of separate model outputs into stock assessment results. Different calibration approaches may be selected for near-term and long-term use.
- Establish the data input, storage, and output requirements of a regional state survey database. Assign roles and responsibilities to initiate its development.
- Agree on the goals and components of a communications plan to maintain transparency throughout the transition process.
Each of the decision points listed above will be documented in the Gulf State Recreational Catch and Effort Estimation Surveys Transition Plan. This plan will be considered a living document.
- Office of Science and Technology
- Office of Sustainable Fisheries
- Southeast Regional Office
- Southeast Fisheries Science Center
- Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
- Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
- Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Council
- Statistical Consultants (Mike Brick, Jill Dever, Virginia Lesser, Jean Opsomer, and Lynne Stokes)
NOAA Fisheries has convened five previous workshops to support the development and implementation of Gulf state recreational fishing surveys, bringing state, regional, and federal partners together with independent experts in survey statistics.
- Red Snapper Recreational Catch Accounting Methods Workshop I (PDF, 5 pages), Workshop II (PDF, 7 pages), and Workshop III (PDF, 7 pages) focused on coordinating between state, regional, and federal partners; meeting science and management needs; and integrating new state-run surveys into the Marine Recreational Information Program.
- Workshop IV explored how a comparable time series of catch estimates could be maintained within and across states using different data collection designs.
- Workshop V invited Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to present simple ratio-based calibrations to convert between state and federal catch estimates.
NOAA Fisheries certified the LA Creel, Tails n’ Scales, Snapper Check, and State Reef Fish Survey designs between 2017 and 2019. In 2019, the agency's Office of Science and Technology, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, and Southeast Regional Office published a white paper (PDF, 32 pages) documenting a recommended path forward regarding the most appropriate source of marine recreational catch statistics for the assessment of Gulf of Mexico reef fish stocks. State estimates will be fully incorporated into federal stock assessments or management decisions once we have completed and executed the Transition Plan described above. Indeed, certification means these state survey designs have achieved statistical rigor and passed a peer review. It is the transition process that determines how differences between state and federal estimates will be examined and accounted for, and how state and federal estimates will be calibrated into a common currency to allow for comparability across the region’s data collection programs.