NOAA Fisheries Certifies Alabama's Snapper Check Survey Design

August 17, 2018

Angler with red snapper.

Photo courtesy of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

NOAA Fisheries announced that the agency has certified the design of Alabama’s Snapper Check survey of charter and private boat fishing for red snapper. This Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) supplemental survey was developed and implemented to facilitate improved monitoring of red snapper catches with respect to annual catch limits. The collection of accurate recreational fisheries data is a priority for the agency.

Since 2014, Alabama, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, and outside expert consultants have been working together to develop, test, review, and refine the Snapper Check survey design. The Snapper Check survey design for charter and private boat fishing consists of two complementary components: an electronic reporting system and a dockside access point intercept survey.

Through a capture-recapture survey design, catch and effort information reported electronically by anglers is validated and corrected using information observed through a dockside intercept survey. MRIP experts provided technical support and coordinated the independent peer review of the design. Looking forward, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and NOAA Fisheries MRIP will work together to address implementation challenges associated with the capture-recapture survey design. 

Snapper Check is now eligible for federal funding to support implementation efforts as well as ongoing improvements. Estimates from this survey can be used for federal scientific stock assessments and fishery management once a transition plan is developed that addresses: (1) how to best integrate these supplemental surveys with the general MRIP surveys and (2) how to best adjust historical estimates based solely on the general MRIP surveys to be consistent with new estimates based on the integrated approach.

Snapper Check is one of several Gulf of Mexico surveys developed by the States with MRIP technical support. Florida developed the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, a different supplemental survey design for improved monitoring of the red snapper fishery. It is in the late stages of review, and we expect a decision later this fall. In June 2018, NOAA Fisheries announced that MRIP certified Mississippi’s Tails n’ Scales survey designs to supplement the general MRIP surveys and provide more precise catch estimates for the short-season Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. In December 2017, NOAA Fisheries announced that MRIP certified the Louisiana Creel (LA Creel) general survey designs as statistically valid for monitoring recreational catches of all species within the state.  

Supporting the development and certification of new survey designs demonstrates MRIP’s commitment to collaborating with state and regional partners to meet their unique data needs and advance recreational fishing data collection efforts to ensure fishing opportunities for generations to come.