About the Marine Recreational Information Program
The Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, is the state-regional-federal partnership responsible for developing, improving, and implementing surveys that measure how many trips saltwater anglers take and how many fish they catch. Driven by data provided by anglers and captains and collected by state and regional partners, MRIP produces better information through better science. Equally important is our commitment to increased transparency, accountability, and engagement.
Due to the dynamic nature of fisheries and fisheries management practices, recreational fishing data collection must be:
- Flexible enough to be updated, modified, expanded, or contracted to meet specific regional or local informational needs.
- Robust enough to provide the most precise and least biased information possible.
- National in scope but regionally specific, recognizing that each region (Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, Pacific Coast, Pacific Islands, Alaska, and the Caribbean) has unique informational needs and data collection issues.
- Inclusive and transparent, providing scientists, managers, and stakeholders an opportunity to participate in its development and use.
To meet the recreational fishing data needs that fit into the overall goal of managing the nation's fisheries, the program strives to have a system of surveys operating with consistent standards and sufficient flexibility to meet national, regional, and state needs and provide reliable information about recreational fishing in a timely manner to support effective and fair management.
What We Do
Recreational fishing is enjoyed by millions of Americans each year, and for some it is their livelihood. There is no single agency that can effectively safeguard our ocean resources - the effort requires the cooperation and engagement of a broad network of people. That is why MRIP is focused on providing accurate and reliable information needed to guide stock assessments and fisheries management to promote and ensure fisheries sustainability.
MRIP is designed to meet two critical needs:
- Provide timely, scientifically sound estimates of recreational catch and effort that fishery managers, stock assessors, and marine scientists need to ensure the sustainability of ocean resources.
- Address state and regional stakeholder needs and concerns about recreational fishing catch and effort estimates.
Additionally, MRIP works with its partners to educate stakeholders in understanding how we use survey methods to produce reliable estimates of total fishing participants, total fishing effort, and total catch for the marine recreational fishery.
The Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (MFCMA - Public Law 94-265) mandated a national program for management of fishery resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which ranges from 3 to 200 miles from shore. The MFCMA also requires that fishery management plans for the EEZ consider harvest data for both recreational and commercial fisheries. The Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS) was established as a national program in 1979 to provide a reliable database for estimating the impact of marine recreational fishing on marine resources. In 2008, MRFSS was formally replaced with the improved Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP).
The MRFSS data collection methodology consisted of two independent, but complementary, surveys: a telephone survey of households and an intercept survey of anglers at fishing access sites. Methodological studies conducted in the 1970s showed that a telephone survey could be used to collect reliable data on recreational fishing activity, including number of trips taken, type of access (shore, boat), and dates of the trips, if the recall period was no longer than two months.
Information about the fish caught on these fishing trips, such as the species, number, and size of the fish caught, were obtained from anglers intercepted and interviewed at fishing access sites. The data from the two independent surveys were combined to produce estimates of total recreational fishing effort, catch, and participation.
The program of surveys has been conducted annually by NOAA Fisheries since then, with changes to improve the quality and coverage of the surveys over the years. This timeline describes the major changes to the surveys designs and coverage. Additionally, the timeline lists other major milestones and events in collecting recreational fishing data.
MRIP is a collaboration of fisheries scientists, stock assessors, managers, and stakeholders overseeing the continual evolution, improvement, and implementation of a series of regionally-based data collection programs.
The MRIP Teams and NOAA Fisheries regional partners work together to ensure that the data collected through MRIP surveys are held to the highest standard.