What is MRIP?
The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is a state-regional-federal partnership that develops, improves, and implements a network of surveys to measure the number of trips saltwater anglers take and the number of fish they catch. Recreational catch and effort estimates are combined with commercial catch data, biological research, and direct observations of fisheries to help scientists and managers assess and maintain sustainable U.S. fish stocks.
How does MRIP measure recreational fishing activity?
Our recreational fishing surveys vary from region to region, state to state, and, in some cases, species to species. Our methods allow us to collect information from large groups of anglers who represent the entire recreational saltwater fishing population. In Hawaii and on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, we measure catch rate—or the number of fish saltwater anglers catch—and effort—or the number of fishing trips these anglers take—through shoreside interviews and mail surveys. (For many charter fleets, we measure effort through a combination of boat operator surveys and logbook reports.)
Our general surveys collect catch and effort data for all species anglers encounter. In some states and regions, supplemental or specialized surveys are used to collect data for select fisheries or during select fishing seasons. Pairing our general surveys with specialized and supplemental surveys allows us to develop more comprehensive recreational fishing statistics.
While the calculations we use to produce total catch estimates are complex, they can be understood as multiplying catch rate by effort.
How does MRIP keep recreational fishing sustainable?
Ensuring our nation’s recreational saltwater anglers have access to healthy and abundant fish stocks is the shared responsibility of federal, regional, and state science and management agencies and an informed and engaged public, which includes anglers themselves. It requires assessing the health of fish stocks, setting regulations to keep stocks sustainable, and evaluating the effectiveness of these rules. The catch and effort estimates produced by MRIP inform this cycle of science and management.
Who conducts the MRIP surveys?
The angler interviews we use to measure catch in Hawaii and on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are conducted by specially trained state samplers. Working with state-based samplers allows us to make use of local knowledge, resources, and relationships with anglers, and to work more effectively with our partners toward our shared goal of sustainable fisheries and quality fishing opportunities. Ultimately, state data are MRIP data, and states are key MRIP partners.
How does MRIP keep its survey methods up-to-date?
Our survey methods are informed by emerging science and the evolving needs of those who use our data. Our continuous process of evaluating existing methods and developing, testing, and implementing new or improved survey designs allows us to produce surveys that meet both national standards and regional needs.
What do MRIP’s estimates say about fishing activity in the United States?
Each year, NOAA Fisheries compiles fisheries statistics into a snapshot of fishing in the United States. The most recent Fisheries of the United States report includes estimates from 2017, and indicates 8.6 million marine recreational anglers took 202 million marine recreational fishing trips in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
Of the one billion fish caught by marine recreational anglers, 64% were released alive. The Atlantic coast accounted for 69% of trips and nearly 62% of catch; the Gulf coast accounted for 28% of trips and more than 36% of catch; and the Pacific coast accounted for nearly 2% of trips and over 1% of catch. For more catch, effort, and fishing participation statistics, visit our query tool.
Is MRIP confident in its estimates of recreational fishing activity?
To ensure recreational fishing data are collected through scientifically sound surveys, we have established a comprehensive and collaborative catch and effort survey certification process. Certified survey and estimation methods—which include our own Access Point Angler Intercept Survey and Fishing Effort Survey—meet a shared set of standards, undergo independent peer review, and are capable of providing accurate and relatively unbiased statistical estimates.
Each estimate we produce includes a measure of precision, which indicates how confident we can be in the specific number of fish or trips we report. We show this measure as a percentage, and as a range of possible numbers above and below a point estimate. The smaller this margin of error, the more confident scientists, managers, and fishermen can be that our estimates accurately reflect what’s happening on the water.
Our catch estimates are precise enough to support the assessment and management of most federally managed species. However, our estimates for rare event and short-season species are relatively imprecise. By collecting more data at fishing sites that see higher levels of offshore fishing activity, we are addressing the need for more precise estimates of rare event species. By helping to develop specialized methods of monitoring red snapper catch in the Gulf of Mexico, we are addressing the need for more precise estimates of a short-season species.
Staff from state resource agencies, NOAA Fisheries Regional Offices, and NOAA Fisheries Science Centers perform quality checks of our data before our preliminary estimates are finalized. The public can access and review our preliminary data online, or comment on our estimates by attending stock assessment meetings and workshops or meetings of regional fishery management councils and interstate marine fisheries commissions. Comments and questions can also be sent directly to MRIP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are anglers involved in MRIP?
Anglers are our eyes and ears on the water, and the central source of the information we use to estimate recreational fishing activity. When anglers participate in and provide accurate data to recreational fishing surveys, they improve our understanding of recreational catch and help ensure the best information possible is entering the management stream. Anglers also serve on project teams, panels, and advisory groups that guide our work.
I’ve never been interviewed. How do I know MRIP is taking my fishing activity into account?
While we could never survey each of the millions of anglers out on the water, we do use surveys designed with input from independent statisticians to interview a sample of anglers who represent the angler population. By using peer reviewed statistical models to make sure we are collecting information from a representative sample, we can produce statistically robust and scientifically sound estimates that provide an accurate picture of fishing activity.