States along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts have received an additional $3 million for recreational fisheries data collection. The funding is part of a NOAA Fisheries plan to provide the state support described in the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018.
Also known as the Modern Fish Act, the legislation calls on NOAA Fisheries to improve recreational fisheries data collection through state-federal partnerships. The agency’s Marine Recreational Information Program develops, improves, and implements a network of recreational fishing surveys to estimate total recreational catch, and maintains such partnerships through Regional Implementation Teams. These investment funds will support the highest priorities these teams have documented. They will also advance state specialized survey programs that allow recreational anglers to submit information through electronic technologies.
Funds have been allocated to states through existing agreements with regional fisheries information networks. These networks function as Regional Implementation Teams in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico.
- The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program will administer $900,000 to improve the precision of landings and discard estimates, prioritizing species managed through annual catch limits.
- The Pacific Coast Recreational Fisheries Information Network will administer $900,000 to restore sampling levels to increase the precision of estimates produced by recreational fishing surveys in Washington, Oregon, and California.
- The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Information Network will administer $900,000 to restore sampling levels for the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, and LA Creel in Louisiana. It will administer an additional $300,000 to support the specialized state surveys that allow anglers to electronically report information about their reef fish fishing trips.
The Marine Recreational Information Program and its Regional Implementation Teams will work together to determine how to distribute the funds among the state sampling programs. While recreational fisheries data collection has been impacted by COVID-19—with several states suspending or modifying their shoreside and at-sea sampling programs in accordance with local social distancing guidelines—we anticipate these funds will be applied once in-person data collection has fully resumed.