Fisheries Management and the Marine Recreational Information Program
Recreational catch estimates inform stock assessments, which are used by fisheries managers to set rules and regulations.
The catch estimates produced by the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) 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 regulations that balance access to the resource with ensuring its sustainability.
Stock assessments measure the impact of fishing on a particular fish or shellfish stock. Stock assessments use recreational catch data, commercial catch data, biological data, and direct observations of fisheries to answer questions about stock size, predict how a stock will respond to management actions, and determine how much of a stock can be harvested before overfishing occurs. Stock assessments produce reports that help fisheries managers set rules and regulations.
Working with state, regional, and international partners, NOAA Fisheries conducts an average of 200 stock assessments each year.
All federal fisheries operate under annual catch limits: the amount of fish that fishermen can catch over the course of a year. If a stock assessment indicates the catch of a stock is approaching or exceeding its annual catch limit, fisheries managers can use accountability measures—like size limits, trip limits, gear restrictions, or seasonal closures—to ensure the limit is not exceeded or to correct for an overage.
Fisheries management decisions are based on a continuous cycle of collecting data, assessing stocks, setting catch limits, and acting as needed to protect the sustainability of stocks now and for generations to come. NOAA Fisheries, regional fishery management councils, interstate marine fisheries commissions, and state agencies work together to set fishing regulations that will help anglers adhere to scientifically established catch limits.
Always check state and federal fishing regulations before you fish.
The NOAA Fisheries Economics Program measures the economic impact of recreational fisheries. Economic and socio-cultural analyses help us understand the behavior of recreational anglers and the effects management actions could have on the recreational fishing sector.