Access Point Angler Intercept Survey At-a-Glance
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program implements a national network of recreational fishing surveys. The Access Point Angler Intercept Survey gathers catch-per-trip information from saltwater anglers along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
How does NOAA Fisheries collect information about recreational catch?
From Maine to Mississippi and in Hawaii, NOAA Fisheries' Marine Recreational Information Program administers the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey to collect catch-per-trip data from anglers fishing from shore, private boats, and for-hire vessels. To conduct APAIS, specially trained state samplers visit marinas, boat ramps, beaches, piers, and other public fishing access sites and survey anglers as they complete their fishing trips.
These data inform our estimates of total recreational catch.
We generate our sample frame by crossing our public access fishing site register, which is an online database of thousands of public access sites, with a day-time calendar. We sample sites at different rates based on fishing pressure levels, or the estimated number of anglers we expect to be at the site at a given day or time. We send interviewers to sample high activity sites more frequently, but include low activity sites to help obtain a representative sample and capture variation in fishing activity.
During each APAIS interview, state samplers record, of note:
- Mode of the angler’s trip (e.g., shore, private or rental boat, or for-hire vessel)
- General area where the angler fished (e.g., inland, state territorial sea, or federal Exclusive Economic Zone)
- Species, number, and disposition of the angler’s catch (e.g., observed harvest, reported harvest, or released alive)
- Where possible, length and weight of harvested fish
State agencies coordinate in-person, on-site data collection efforts, and state staff conduct angler interviews. Regional fisheries information networks provide data storage and quality control.
Samplers, also known as field interviewers, play no role in law enforcement, and any personal information collected through the program is kept confidential.
How many trips are intercepted each year, and what happens to the information anglers share?
Each year, hundreds of field interviewers across 16 states intercept about 86,000 angler trips. Data from the APAIS are primarily used to estimate average catch per fishing trip. These catch-per-trip estimates are combined with effort estimates to produce estimates of total recreational catch. State and federal stock assessment scientists use recreational catch estimates to inform their understanding of stock size and sustainable harvest levels. Fisheries managers use this information to set regulations that ensure access to fishing and promote the long-term health of fish populations.
What happens to the information anglers share?
Data from our catch surveys are combined with data from our effort surveys to produce an estimate of total recreational catch. These estimates are combined with commercial catch data, biological research, and information collected from direct observations of fisheries to help stock assessment scientists assess the health of fish stocks. Through a public process that includes angler input, fisheries managers use these assessments to set fishing regulations that support sustainable fisheries for future generations. Once our estimates have been produced and reviewed, we provide access to them by placing them in a publicly accessible database on our website.
How does this survey benefit me?
Our understanding of saltwater recreational catch depends on complete and accurate data provided by recreational anglers. Taking a few minutes to share information about your fishing trip is one of the most important contributions you can make to fisheries management, and the sustainability of our resources.
How are field interviewers assigned to sites?
Field interviewers are assigned to visit public fishing access sites during specific days and time periods. We use standard statistical methods to select sites that will produce an efficient and representative sample of fishing trips.
What is an interviewer’s daily assignment like?
Field interviewers conduct surveys during all times of day, and work the entire length of their six-hour assignment, night or day, rain or shine.
Why do interviewers work at sites where fishing activity is low?
We sample sites at different rates based on fishing pressure levels, or the estimated number of anglers we expect to be at the site on a given day or time. We send interviewers to sample high-activity sites more frequently, but include low-activity sites to help obtain a representative sample and capture variation in fishing activity. If we only sampled at sites with high fishing activity, the samples would be skewed.
Why do interviewers survey anglers who didn’t catch any fish?
Our sample needs to be representative of all saltwater fishing trips, regardless of how many fish, if any, were caught. If we only sampled trips where anglers caught fish, our catch estimates would be biased (and likely too high).
Why do interviewers survey anglers who are visiting from out of town?
Interviewing both resident and non-resident anglers helps our sample be as representative as possible of all saltwater fishing trips. If we didn’t use the APAIS to gather information from out-of-state residents, we wouldn’t be able to account for the fish those anglers catch or the trips they take.
Why does it matter what one angler reports, and how can you count my fishing if I’ve never been interviewed?
The success of our surveys relies on the participation of the people we sample. Because it’s not practical or possible for us to intercept each of the millions of recreational anglers fishing along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and Hawaii, each trip we do sample may represent dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of trips. Sample surveys allow us to draw reasonable conclusions about the full recreational fishing community.
Why should I participate more than once?
Even if you’ve been surveyed before, the unique characteristics of your current fishing trip—such as the date, time, and place where you fished, or the species you caught—haven’t been incorporated into our data. No two fishing trips are alike.
How do you evaluate the quality of your estimates?
While no statistical surveys are free of errors, our staff practices extensive quality assurance and control measures before our estimates are published. This includes checking for errors in data entry and investigating any unusual changes in trends for highinterest, rare-event, and federally managed species. As part of our commitment to continuous evaluation and improvement, we regularly conduct research on our existing methods of data collection and pursue improvements to our survey designs.
Do interviewers collect economic data?
Every five years, NOAA Fisheries conducts the Marine Recreational Fishing Expenditure Survey as an “add-on” to the APAIS. Also known as the Socio-Economic Add-On Survey, or SEAS, these additional questions ask anglers about their fishing-related expenses, from the cost of bait and fuel to transportation, lodging, and food. Understanding how much anglers spend on their fishing trips improves our understanding of how marine recreational fishing contributes to jobs, sales, and income and may also aid in informing disaster recovery efforts. This information also supports economic analyses of fisheries policies.