What is MRIP?
The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is the state-regional-federal partnership that develops, improves, and implements a national network of recreational fishing surveys. These surveys measure the number of saltwater trips recreational anglers take and the number of fish they catch, keep, and release. The resulting data are used to produce estimates of total recreational catch, which are combined with commercial catch data, biological research, and direct observations of fisheries to help scientists and managers assess and maintain sustainable 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. Generally speaking, we measure catch rate—or the average number of fish caught per angler trip—through in-person interviews, and we measure effort—or the number of fishing trips anglers take—through mail and telephone surveys. In many regions, electronic trip reports collect additional information about for-hire fishing activity. Our estimation methods are complex, but can be understood as multiplying catch rate by effort to estimate total recreational catch.
While our general surveys collect catch and effort data for all species anglers encounter, some states use specialized surveys to collect data for select fisheries or during select fishing seasons. Pairing our general surveys with specialized surveys allows us to develop more comprehensive recreational fishing statistics.
Why should I participate in an MRIP survey?
Our understanding of recreational catch depends on complete and accurate data from the recreational fishing community. Taking a few minutes to share information about your fishing trip is one of the most important contributions you can make to fisheries science, management, and the sustainability of a great American pastime.
When you share information about your fishing activity, you’re playing an important role in supporting sustainable fishing opportunities, now and for generations to come.
How many anglers does MRIP survey each year?
Why use surveys instead of counting all the fish anglers catch?
Millions of recreational anglers fish along our coasts. While it wouldn’t be practical or possible for us to intercept all of their trips, we can use probability-based sample surveys to collect information from a representative part of the fishing community. Because this statistical approach produces unbiased estimates, it’s the standard for conducting large-scale government surveys like ours.
How do MRIP’s estimates impact fishing regulations?
Recreational catch estimates are just one of the many pieces of information fisheries managers must consider during their science-based decision-making process. Sometimes, these estimates inform decisions to limit or restrict fishing; other times, they inform decisions to provide greater access to the resource. Reporting complete and accurate information about your fishing activity will help scientists accurately assess the size and health of fish populations, so managers can pass only those regulations that are necessary for the long-term sustainability of stocks.
What do MRIP’s estimates say about fishing activity in the United States?
Each year, NOAA Fisheries publishes a snapshot of fishing and seafood consumption in the United States. The most recent Fisheries of the United States report features recreational fisheries statistics from 2018, which indicate anglers took 194 million saltwater fishing trips in the United States (not including Alaska).
Of the 956 million fish anglers caught, almost 64% were released alive. The Atlantic coast accounted for 67% of trips and 60% of catch; the Gulf coast accounted for 29% of trips and 37% of catch; and the Pacific coast accounted for 3% of trips and 1% of catch. For more recreational fisheries statistics, visit the MRIP Query Tool.
Is MRIP confident in its estimates?
Our data collection and estimation methods are statistically rigorous, scientifically sound, and subject to NOAA Fisheries certification. Certified survey and estimation methods—which include the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey and Fishing Effort Survey—meet a shared set of standards, undergo independent peer review, and are capable of producing accurate and relatively unbiased estimates. Program staff also practice extensive quality control measures before our estimates are published, checking for errors in data entry and investigating any unusual changes in trends for high-interest, rare-event, and federally managed species.
The “pulse” nature of some fisheries can make it hard to produce precise catch estimates. All of our point estimates are published with a measure of their precision, and data users are alerted when an estimate is imprecise and should therefore be used with caution. Ultimately, stock assessment scientists, fisheries managers, and other data users must determine whether and how to incorporate these “outlier estimates” into their work.
How does MRIP keep its survey methods up-to-date?
To ensure our program is using the best available science, teams of partners and stakeholders regularly evaluate our existing methods of data collection and recommend new or improved survey designs. Our transition process minimizes the disruptions that might otherwise occur when a new survey design is put in place. The process of evaluating existing methods and developing, testing, and implementing new or improved methods allows us to produce surveys that meet national standards and regional needs.
How do I know MRIP is taking my fishing activity into account?
With millions of fishing trips taking place each year, it’s not possible to intercept every trip that occurs or gather information from every angler who fishes. While no two fishing trips are the same, the statistical process that drives the selection of sampling sites ensures the trips we do intercept are representative of the recreational fishing community.