NOAA Fisheries Certifies Mississippi's Tails n' Scales Survey Design

June 27, 2018

Woman holding red snapper

Photo courtesy of Rosemary White.

NOAA Fisheries announced today that the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) has certified the designs of Mississippi’s Tails n’ Scales surveys of charter and private boat fishing for red snapper. Tails n’ Scales will be included in the suite of implemented MRIP surveys in the Gulf of Mexico. These supplemental surveys were developed and implemented to facilitate improved monitoring of red snapper catches with respect to annual catch limits. 

Since 2015, Mississippi, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA Fisheries, and outside expert consultants have been working together to develop, test, review, and refine the Tails n’ Scales survey designs. The Tails n’ Scales survey designs for both charter and private boat fishing consist 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 from the dockside intercept survey.  This is the first time this approach has been tested for estimating recreational fishing catch and effort. MRIP experts provided technical support for subsequent improvement and coordinated the independent peer review of the design.

The Tails n’ Scales surveys are now eligible for federal funding to support ongoing improvements and implementation. Estimates from these surveys 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.
  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.

The Tails n’ Scales surveys are two of several Gulf of Mexico surveys developed by the states with MRIP technical support. Alabama’s Snapper Check is currently under review for MRIP certification. Additionally, Florida developed a different supplemental survey design for improved monitoring of the red snapper fishery that was peer reviewed in February. Late last year, NOAA Fisheries announced MRIP certified the Louisiana Creel general survey designs as statistically valid for monitoring recreational catches of all species within the state.

The process of 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.