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Recreational Fishing Data Priorities for 2023

February 03, 2023

NOAA Fisheries spotlights fiscal year 2023 priorities, fiscal year 2022 achievements to support the recreational fishing data collection program.

Anglers display a redfish from a boat. Photo credit: Clark Lo.

NOAA Fisheries has published its Marine Recreational Information Program Implementation Plan, which identifies its recreational fishing data collection program priorities for fiscal year 2023. Priorities include examining current survey designs to see where improvements can be made; implementing plans to transition to new and improved survey methods; and supporting regional data collection priorities. 

“Our partners and stakeholders play a key role in achieving programmatic milestones and identifying regionally specific data collection needs,” said Richard Cody, chief of the Office of Science and Technology’s Fisheries Statistics Division. “This plan reflects their contributions and collaboration.”  

Program Priorities for Fiscal Year 2023

Effective Implementation of New, Improved Survey Methods 

We will continue to develop and implement transition plans in coordination with state and regional survey sponsors. They outline crucial steps for moving from one survey method to a new or improved survey method. The goal of these plans is to preserve the continuity of historical fisheries catch and effort information and to minimize disruption to fisheries management during the transition. 

Redesign of the Large Pelagics Survey 

We plan to complete the final phase of sampling for the new Large Pelagics Survey design. Large pelagics include tuna, sharks, billfish, and other offshore species. We will test various methods to optimize the productivity of the survey, or the number of interviews conducted per sampling assignment. Once certified, the survey design may be an option for expanding coverage and improving the precision of catch estimates for other fisheries not frequently encountered through our other surveys.    

Support for Regional Priorities 

We will continue to work with regional teams to update and implement their regional implementation plans. These teams are located in the:

  • Atlantic (Atlantic Coast and Atlantic Highly Migratory Species)
  • Pacific
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Pacific Islands
  • Alaska

The plans specify regional data collection priorities along with funding and technical needs that help drive decision-making. They are living documents formally updated every 5 years. 

Commitment to Continuous Improvement

As part of our ongoing commitment to continuous improvement and providing quality data, we will further investigate potential sources of errors in our survey designs and methodologies. We will make plans to address these once identified. While it's impossible to eliminate all potential sources of error from a survey design, certain statistical methods can be employed to help reduce error. 

Key Program Highlights for Fiscal Year 2022

Developed Transition Plan for Gulf State Recreational Fishing Surveys 

The Gulf of Mexico Transition Team developed a plan that outlines the process for incorporating catch estimates from Gulf of Mexico state surveys into NOAA Fisheries science and management. These state surveys include:

  • LA Creel
  • Mississippi Tails n’ Scales
  • Alabama Snapper Check
  • Florida State Reef Fish Survey
  • Texas Coastal Creel Survey 

Administered $3 Million to Partners to Support Regional Priorities

We provided additional funds to the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program, GulfFIN, and Pacific RecFIN to support increased sampling along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific coasts. This funding helps support regional data collection priorities to meet unique fisheries management needs.

Provided Tailored Technical Resources

NOAA Fisheries hosted six webinars to provide stock assessors, fisheries analysts, and other recreational data users with best practices for accessing, analyzing, and using recreational fishing data.

We also developed informational products that help explain how the agency estimates recreational catch per angler trip, number of angler trips, and total catch. They cover such topics as statistical weighting and precision.

Completed Report to Congress on In-Season Management 

We completed a plan that addresses recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s 2021 study, Data and Management Strategies for Recreational Fisheries with Annual Catch Limits.

Tracking Progress

Since 2008, NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program has tracked annual updates of the program’s work to provide recreational fishing statistics. This information helps assess the current health of fisheries and guides informed fisheries management decisions.

Thank you to our partners and stakeholders who are critical to our collaborative operations.They include: 

  • Recreational anglers
  • For-hire captains
  • State agencies
  • Fisheries information networks
  • Interstate marine fisheries commissions
  • Regional fishery management councils


Last updated by Office of Science and Technology on February 09, 2023