The Marine Recreational Information Program Ad-hoc Steering Committee and its advisors have completed an MRIP Regional Implementation Plan for the Pacific Islands (PDF, 30 pages). This plan is designed to identify and prioritize needs and actions associated with understanding and managing the non-commercial fishery in the state/territorial and federal waters in the Western Pacific.
Committee membership and advisors included staff from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries Pacific Island Regional Office and Science Center, and representatives from the local fishery management agencies from American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Hawaii. MRIP provided a staff point-of-contact to support the development of the plan.
The Pacific Islands region identified the following six prioritized needs:
Expert technical review of the Territorial creel surveys.
Completing the review process and securing MRIP certifications for the recommended regional survey designs.
Full funding for the surveys that meet the minimum survey standards for Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Mariana Archipelago (this may include expansion of surveys - spatial and temporal - to better capture the fishery information and additional technical support for data entry and database management); specific recommendations are also provided for survey improvements in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
Improved timeliness of non-commercial catch estimates.
Development of an algorithm that extracts the non-commercial component of the total creel survey catch estimates.
Development of a mobile data entry system to support near real-time reporting.
This Regional Implementation Plan augments the Strategic Plan developed by the Fishery Data Collection and Research Committee for the improvement of fishery data collection in the Western Pacific.
A technical workshop, slated for later this year, will bring together expert consultants, fisheries agency staff from across the region, and members of the Ad-hoc Committee to develop a strategy for addressing the Regional Implementation Plan's highest priority recommendations.
Inaugural Regional Implementation Plans
These inaugural Regional Implementation Plans represent a significant evolution in the course of MRIP, clearly establishing that each region will have a direct role in determining which survey methods are most suitable for their science, stock assessment, and management needs. MRIP will use these plans to develop a national inventory of partner needs and associated costs, and annually specify priority-setting criteria for supporting those needs.
Where possible, each Regional Implementation Plan will provide an analysis of existing programs, detail priorities for coverage, resolution, precision, and timeliness, identify strategies for implementing improved methods, outline processes for integrating data from different sources, and include budget estimates. Every plan will be submitted for a comprehensive review and approval process by MRIP’s Executive Steering Committee.
From a national perspective, these plans will serve to guide MRIP decision-making regarding ongoing research priorities and implementation budget allocation. The Regional Implementation Plans are “living documents,” which will be adjusted as necessary based on changing science and management needs and budget availability, and will be formally updated every five years.
Applying this collaborative approach to the development and launch of the Regional Implementation Plans is critical to improving recreational fishing data collection efforts and supporting quality fishing opportunities for generations.