An Introduction to Marine Recreational Information Program Data
There are several ways to access NOAA Fisheries’ recreational catch and effort data.
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program works with state and regional partners to produce the recreational fisheries statistics that help scientists and managers assess and maintain sustainable U.S. fish stocks. In accordance with NOAA’s Information Quality Guidelines, program staff work to provide those who are affected by science and management decisions with the information needed to understand the data that informed them. This includes providing open access to:
- The data used;
- The analytical methods applied; and
- The assumptions and statistical procedures employed.
Guidance for Data Users
Fisheries analysts and stock assessors are encouraged to download the MRIP Data User Handbook for detailed information about downloading, exporting, querying, and performing custom analyses of our recreational fishing data. In addition, the 2021-2022 MRIP Data User Seminar Series addresses best practices for accessing, analyzing, and using recreational fishing data. Register for and/or watch recordings of these training sessions using the links below:
- Introduction to MRIP Data (Oct. 26, 2021)
- Statistical Methods and Procedures (Nov. 30, 2021)
- MRIP Query Tool (Jan. 25, 2022)
- Custom Domain Analyses (Feb. 22, 2022)
- Using Fishing Effort Survey Data (Date and Event Link TBD)
- Using Large Pelagics Survey Data (Date and Event Link TBD)
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program provides open access to its recreational fishing microdata and its catch and effort estimates.
- Microdata are the recreational fishing information gathered through our recreational fishing surveys.
- Estimates are the calculated statistical values produced from these microdata.
- Data is a term that encompasses both microdata and estimates.
There are several ways to access the Marine Recreational Information Program’s data products. You can:
- Visit our Recreational Fishing Data Downloads page to access our public-use datasets and the analytical programs we have developed to support custom domain analyses.
- Use the MRIP Query Tool to filter catch, effort, and fish length data by time series, geographic area, species, mode, and other characteristics.
- Submit custom data requests.
- Subscribe to our email service to be notified of data updates.
In accordance with NOAA Fisheries’ Data and Information Management Policy Directive (PDF, 5 pages), metadata that describes the “what, where, when, how, and who” of the Marine Recreational Information Program’s data holdings is available on InPort: a centralized repository of NOAA Fisheries’ data documentation.
Data Collection Schedule
Different recreational fishing surveys are administered in different regions at different times. In the Northeast, for example, the agency’s Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) is not administered during known periods of low fishing activity. The table below indicates which of the Marine Recreational Information Program’s surveys are conducted during which two-month sampling periods, or waves.
Note: The APAIS and For-Hire Survey (FHS) do not sample headboats south of Virginia, as these vessels are covered by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Southeast Region Headboat Survey. The APAIS and FHS are not administered in Hawaii, but Hawaii does implement an angler intercept survey alongside the FES. Data collection efforts are suspended in Puerto Rico as the territory rebuilds following Hurricane Maria (September 2017).
Wave 1 (Jan.-Feb.)
The Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) and For-Hire Survey (FHS) are administered in North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Fishing Effort Survey (FES) is administered in these states and in Hawaii.
Wave 2 (March-April)
The APAIS and FHS are administered in coastal states from New Hampshire through Mississippi. The FES is administered in these states and in Hawaii. During this wave, New Hampshire samples headboats independently of MRIP; the state should be contacted directly for those data.
Wave 3 (May-June), Wave 4 (July-August), and Wave 5 (Sept.-Oct.)
The APAIS and FHS are administered in coastal states from Maine through Mississippi. The FES is administered in these states and in Hawaii.
From June through October, the Large Pelagics Survey (LPS) is administered in coastal states from Maine through Virginia.
Wave 6 (Nov.-Dec.)
The APAIS and FHS are administered in coastal states from Massachusetts through Mississippi. The FES is administered in these states and in Hawaii.
Estimation and Publication Schedule
Preliminary microdata and estimates from our general surveys, which include the APAIS, FES, and FHS, are published approximately 45 days after the end of each two-month sampling period (April 15, June 15, August 15, October 15, December 15, and February 15). Final microdata and estimates from these surveys are published on or around April 15 of the following year.
Preliminary microdata and estimates from the LPS are published approximately two months after the end of each one-month sampling period (i.e., June estimates are published in September, July estimates are published in October, etc.). Final microdata and estimates from the LPS are published in April of the following year.
Note: Once the agency’s Recreational Fishing Survey and Data Standards are fully implemented, we will no longer publish estimates that are specific to each sampling period. Instead, we will publish cumulative estimates every two months, beginning with the first survey administration of the survey year. Data users who choose to create wave-level estimates may do so using the microdata and custom domain analysis programs available on the Recreational Fishing Data Downloads page.
Subscribe to our email service to be notified of data updates.
To minimize the potential for error in our estimates, we follow a number of best practices for quality assurance and quality control.
To support quality assurance, which works to prevent invalid data from entering our system, we:
- Ensure field interviewers are trained.
- Ensure data entry is intuitive.
- Automate tasks.
- Conduct verification interviews.
To support quality control, which works to detect and correct errors that make it into our data, we:
- Use statistical software to systematically identify invalid, outlier, and mismatched data before and after we produce estimates.
- Manually review our data for potential errors at each step of analysis. (An unusually high or low catch estimate, for instance, will be identified and investigated before estimates are published.)
- Publish preliminary data to allow anyone with questions or concerns to raise them for further review, investigation, and, if necessary, correction before the data become final.
Data Use Considerations
Data users should be aware of the limitations of our data.
Preliminary estimates may be revised before they are published as final, and final estimates may be revised if errors are found. The direction and magnitude of such revisions cannot be predicted. When substantial revisions are made, subscribers to our email service are notified and notes are posted to the MRIP Query Tool and Recreational Fishing Estimate Updates webpage.
Small sample sizes may result in imprecise estimates. Catch estimates for rare-event species, for example, are often less precise than catch estimates for commonly caught species. But when we group year, state, wave, or mode estimates together, sample sizes increase and precision improves. For this reason, our estimates are best viewed in aggregate: annually and at the state or regional level.
Generally speaking, estimates from Maine through Mississippi may be compared across extended periods of time, because calibration methodologies have been applied to account for changes in survey design and sample coverage over the years. However, we advise caution in using the National Summary Query to make such long-term comparisons for estimates in Louisiana, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.
In some cases, landed fish may not be represented in weight data. This can occur when no fish were observed, or when observed fish were too large for a weight measurement to take place. Furthermore, weight estimates published in the MRIP Query Tool may differ from weight estimates published by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, which follows a different weight estimation procedure for South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico managed species. More information about how weight estimates are produced can be found in the Weight Data entry of the Recreational Fishing Data Glossary.