Access Point Angler Intercept Survey At-a-Glance
The Marine Recreational Information Program uses a suite of surveys to collect information about recreational fishing. The Access Point Angler Intercept Survey is used to gather catch information directly from saltwater anglers.
How does NOAA Fisheries collect information about recreational catch?
On the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Mississippi and in Hawaii, NOAA Fisheries works with state agencies to collect information about recreational catch through shoreside interviews with recreational anglers. These interviews are part of the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS).
To conduct the APAIS, trained, state-based field samplers visit marinas, boat ramps, beaches, fishing piers, and other publicly accessible fishing sites to interview anglers as they complete their fishing trips. During an interview, samplers measure and weigh fish that were harvested and collect information about fish that were released. Samplers play no role in enforcement, and have nothing to do with limits, rules, or regulations. These interviews are confidential, and the information samplers collect is protected under the Privacy Act of 1974.
How do samplers decide where to go?
Samplers are assigned to visit one or more publicly accessible fishing sites during a specific time of day. These assignments are generated through a statistical process that allows us to select a sampling of sites based on certain site characteristics, and ensures our sample is representative of the actual fishing that is taking place.
Why haven’t I been interviewed?
With millions of fishing trips taking place each year, it’s not possible to sample every trip that occurs or every angler that fishes. While no two fishing trips are the same, the statistical process that drives the selection of sampling sites ensures the fishermen we do interview are representative of saltwater anglers in Hawaii and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
What is a sampler’s daily assignment like?
Samplers conduct interviews during all times of day, with eligible anglers, for the entire length of their six-hour assignment. (Eligible anglers are those who, regardless of age, have completed a non-commercial saltwater fishing trip, during which any finfish were targeted or caught.) This means you could see a sampler at night or interviewing anglers at a site where fishing activity is low.
Each sampling assignment includes a date, a time interval, a “cluster” of one or two sites that should be sampled, and the order in which these sites should be visited.
Why do samplers interview anglers who did not catch any fish?
Our sample of recreational anglers needs to represent all fishing trips, regardless of how many fish were caught. If we only sampled anglers who returned with fish, our estimates of recreational catch would be too high. By interviewing as many eligible anglers as possible, we can gather information that more accurately reflects the fishing taking place.
Why do samplers work at sites where fishing activity is low?
Strict adherence to survey design is critical to collecting statistically sound data. This means samplers must follow their predetermined schedule and leave a site only to travel to another site in their assigned cluster until their work for the day is complete.
While samplers do not work when the weather poses a threat to their safety, they do work when the weather is bad or when fishing activity is low. Documenting low-activity sites gives us a complete picture of what’s happening—or not happening—on the water.
How many anglers are surveyed each year? What happens to the information they share?
State samplers interview about 111,000 anglers each year on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Data from our catch surveys are combined with data from our effort surveys to produce an estimate of total recreational catch. Recreational catch estimates are combined with commercial catch estimates, biological information, and direct observations of fisheries to help 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 balance access to the resource and ensure its sustainability now and for generations to come.
How does APAIS affect me?
Our understanding of saltwater recreational catch depends on complete and accurate data provided by recreational fishermen. 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 trip with state samplers, your fishing experience—and the experiences of anglers like you—inform sound rulemaking that will safeguard recreational fishing for generations to come.