Greater Atlantic Region Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Implementation Plan
The plan is built around the policy goals and guiding principles identified in NOAA’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy.
Saltwater fisheries are an important component of our regional identity—from downeast Maine and Cape Cod to the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Hatteras. Millions of recreational fishing trips take place throughout the Greater Atlantic region. Anglers spend more than $2.3 billion annually on these recreational fishing trips across our region ($544.4 million across New England and $1.76 billion across the mid-Atlantic in 2020). For-hire vessels, private vessels, and shore-based anglers harvest more than 150 million pounds of fish each year, including summer flounder, pollock, haddock, black sea bass, and bluefish.
The Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center are responsible for the science-based stewardship of our nation’s marine life in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Together with our management partners, we are responsible for maintaining healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, sustainable and productive fishery resources, and commercial and recreational access to those fishery resources for the long-term use and overall benefit of the nation.
We are responsible for setting annual specifications and management measures in federal waters to ensure we are preventing overfishing on recreationally important stocks—Atlantic bluefish, Atlantic mackerel, black sea bass, chub mackerel, groundfish (like cod, haddock, pollock, and flounders), scup, summer flounder, and golden and blueline tilefish. In addition, we are continually working with our management partners on innovative management approaches to better meet the needs of the recreational and for-hire communities. We recognize the important role that recreational anglers and for-hire operations play in the long-term sustainability of our fisheries. We work closely with the recreational community on fisheries management, protected resources management, and habitat restoration and, in particular, in the consideration of other ocean uses like offshore wind and aquaculture.
In the Greater Atlantic Region, our vision for the future includes thriving fish stocks, healthy fish habitats, vibrant coastal communities, and world-class fisheries. Achieving this goal requires a foundation of trust between NOAA and recreational anglers; therefore, collaboration with the recreational fisheries community is essential. This implementation plan is the next step toward making recreational fisheries a key focus of regional activities. While the plan will be a basic roadmap for action in the region, it is a living document that can accommodate new challenges and opportunities as they arise. We intend for this plan, and the activities described here, to embrace a wide range of partners and stakeholders to allow for successful recreational and for-hire fisheries.
Support, Maintain, and Recover Sustainable Saltwater Recreational and Non-Commercial Fisheries Resources, Including Protected Species, and Healthy Marine and Estuarine Habitats
Support Habitat Restoration Projects for Healthy Fish Habitats
Work closely with the Habitat Restoration Center, recreational fishermen, and other partners to support restoration of important habitat for recreationally significant fish (e.g., eel grass restoration, etc.). The action supports guiding principles 1 and 6. Metrics of success include the number of recreational fishing groups/associations partnerships and the number of projects completed.
Expand Collaboration with NOAA’s Marine Debris Program
Work closely with the Marine Debris Program to partner with recreational fishing associations on issues related to minimizing and mitigating marine debris from recreational fishing. The action supports guiding principles 1 and 6. Metrics of success include the number of recreational fishing group/association partnerships and the number of projects completed.
Collaborate with the Recreational Fishing and Boating Communities to Improve Whale and Vessel Safety
Advise the Whale and Vessel Safety Taskforce to help identify and develop technology and monitoring tools that can mitigate the risk of vessel strikes to marine mammals, with special attention to North Atlantic right whales. This action supports guiding principles 1, 4, and 6. Metrics of success include participation in taskforce discussions and identification of mitigation strategies.
Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Saltwater Recreational and Non-Commercial Fishing for the Social, Cultural, and Economic Benefit of the Nation
Strengthen Angler Engagement
Collaboratively develop a regional outreach and communication plan that aims to educate and gather angler input and participation in programs and activities. This work supports guiding principles 2, 5, and 6. Metrics of success include development of an engagement plan and the number of communications and engagements with recreational community and leaders.
Validation of Northeast For-Hire Vessel Trip Report Effort Estimates
Evaluate the accuracy of VTR effort estimates and develop quality assurance/quality control procedures, as appropriate. The project supports guiding principles 4 and 5. Metrics of success include comparison of self-reported estimates of angler effort from the for-hire vessel trip reports to direct observations of angler effort recorded by Marine Recreational Information Program interviewers and development/implementation of quality assurance/quality control procedures, as appropriate.
Expand Collaboration with NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries
Work closely with the Stellwagen Bank and Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuaries on outreach and education efforts related to sustainable access of recreational fisheries within the Sanctuary system. The effort supports guiding principles 2 and 3. Metrics of success include the number of engagement events and the number of fishing group/association partnerships.
Enable Enduring Participation In, and Enjoyment Of, Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Through Science-Based Conservation and Management
Better Understand Recreational Use of Marine and Coastal Resources
- Study ability to enhance and augment available data on angler participation, effort, and preferences derived from recreational fishing apps (e.g. FishBrain, FishRules, FishVerify, etc.). The action supports guiding principles 1 and 4. Metrics of success include development of a study to determine efficacy of recreational fishing apps, to include angler participation, effort, and preferences.
- Work closely with recreational fisheries groups to explore innovative solutions to gather recreational data that is otherwise deficient in stock assessments and/or supplements the broader national recreational data collection system. The action supports guiding principles 1 and 4. Metrics of success include exploration of viable reporting programs that obtain discard and effort data and exploration of long-term angler engagements.
Expand the Recreational Bioeconomic Length-Structured Angler Simulation Model Toolkit
Construct a fully functional recreational fishing management decision support tool based on the BLAST modeling framework developed for cod and haddock in the Gulf of Maine, and summer flounder, black sea bass, and scup in the mid-Atlantic. The project supports guiding principles 4 and 5. Metrics of success include development of a Decision Support Tool Working Group to guide construction of the Working Group and integrate it into the management decision-making process.
Explore Use of Use High-Resolution Satellite Imagery to Quantify Recreational Fishing Vessels At Sea
Analyze a subset of very high resolution satellite imagery and determine if and how these data can be compared to Marine Recreational Information Program effort estimates. The project supports guiding principles 4 and 6. Metrics of success include evaluation of high-resolution images to account for recreational anglers at sea, implement a study of participation metrics, and the release of the final results.
Mid-Atlantic Recreational Reform Initiative
Continue to support the development and application of new and additional management tools for recreational fisheries in the mid-Atlantic. The project supports guiding principles 3 and 4. Metrics of success include continued support of work to advance recreational reform and supporting the Department of Justice in defending against litigation.
Advance Climate-Ready Policies and Programs to Respond to Climate-Driven Changes and Impacts on Fishery Resources and the Ecosystem
Ensure Recreational Fisheries Metrics are Considered in the East Coast Climate Change Scenario Planning Next Steps
Ensure recreational fisheries and recreational fishing data continue to be considered in the potential actions resulting from the East Coast Climate Change Scenario Planning process. The project supports guiding principles 3 and 4. Metrics of success may include number of climate-related projects including recreationally important stocks and number of projects that incorporate recreational fishing data.
Examine the Impact of Climate Change on Recreationally Important Stocks
Develop a process to consider shifts in distribution and vulnerability related to climate change on recreationally important stocks allowing for improved understanding and consideration of the impact of climate change on the recreational community. This activity supports guiding principles 1, 4, 5, and 6. Metrics of success include number of conversations with recreational fishing groups on climate-related changes and the number of fishery management actions with climate considerations described in the decision-making process.
Pursue Development of a Recreational For-Hire Study Fleet
Provide opportunity for recreational and for-hire fishery participants to provide meaningful, usable data for use in better understanding recreational fisheries, the impacts of climate changes on those stocks, and other data through a scientifically rigorous for-hire study fleet pilot program. The project supports guiding principles 1 and 4. Metrics of success include development of a Northeast groundfish pilot study, approval/execution of a for-hire study fleet model, and publication of the results.
Pursue and Support Equitable Treatment and Meaningful Involvement of Underserved and Underrepresented Communities in Recreational and Non-Commercial Fisheries and Stewardship
Marine Resource Education Program
Engage and educate constituents while seeking and supporting diverse candidates for the Northeast Marine Resource Education Program to enhance and diversify public participation in the federal fisheries science and management process. The project supports guiding principles 2, 3, and 6. Metrics of success include assessing the demographic composition of the program over time.
Translation of Educational and Outreach Materials
Provide non-English versions of educational materials in print and online formats. The project supports guiding principles 2 and 6. Metrics of success include the release of translated materials for non-English-speaking recreational fishing communities.
Expand Outreach and Youth Fishing Programs in Areas with Underrepresented Communities
Support and/or participate in outreach and educational programs specifically focused in areas with underserved and underrepresented communities and work to operationalize NOAA Fisheries’ new national Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy. This work supports guiding principles 2 and 6. Metrics of success include the number of events supported by NOAA Fisheries and the number of participants or groups engaged in these programs.