Recreational Fishing Data Glossary
The terms used in the Marine Recreational Information Program's query tool are defined below.
Survey Data: Data collected through recreational fishing surveys.
- TRIP_YYYYW.sas.7bdat (1981 – Present): Trip-level data (analogous to MRFSS i1 dataset) and variables required for estimation. Contains one record per angler trip interview (identified by id_code).
- CATCH_YYYYW.sas7bdat (1981 – Present): Catch-level data and variables required for estimation. Contains one record per species for each angler trip interview.
- SIZE_YYYYW.sas7bdat (1981 – Present): Fish-level length and weight data and variables required for estimation. Contains one record per fish caught and measured or weighed by interviewer.
Estimates: Calculated values derived through the application of statistical methods to survey data.
- Catch Estimates: Estimates of the number of finfish caught and harvested or released alive, by year, wave, sub-region, state, mode of fishing, area of fishing, and species of finfish. Catch estimates through 2003 are calculated using Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) methodology; estimates from 2004 to the present are calculated using MRIP methodology.
- Effort Estimates: Estimates of the number of recreational saltwater angler trips, by year, wave, sub-region, state, mode of fishing, and area of fishing. Effort estimates through 2003 are calculated using Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) methodology; estimates from 2004 to the present are calculated using MRIP methodology.
- Participation Estimates (1981-2012): Estimates of the number of recreational saltwater anglers, by year, wave, sub-region, state, and resident type. Participation estimates are calculated using Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) methodology.
For more information, visit our Recreational Fishing Data Downloads page or open the MRIP Read Me. Variable formats and descriptions can be found in MRIP_Survey_Variables (.xls) and MRIP_Estimate_Variables (.xls).
The BASE series contains estimates that were available between 1981 and 2017, before the application of two calibrations to support the modified Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) and new Fishing Effort Survey (FES). There were three notable changes to the BASE series over time.
- Estimates from 1981 to 2003 were derived from the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS).
- Estimates from 2004 to 2012 were derived from MRFSS intercept data with MRIP weighted estimation methodology.
- Estimates from 2013 to 2017 were produced with APAIS data using MRIP weighted estimation methodology.
The ACAL series contains estimates resulting from the application of the APAIS calibration to data collected before the 2013 APAIS design change. This calibration applies to estimates between 1981 and 2012, and accounts for the 2013 design change (for all years prior to 2013) and the MRIP weighted estimation methodology (for all years prior to 2004). The ACAL series was produced, in part, to illustrate the effects of the APAIS and FES calibrations on our estimates, and is for comparison purposes only.
The FCAL series contains estimates resulting from the full application of both calibrations to data collected between 1981 and 2017. These calibrations account for the APAIS design change and the transition from the Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) to the FES. The estimates available in standard MRIP catch and effort queries are the FCAL series.
Directed Trip Species Options
- Primary Target: Provides an effort estimate for all trips on which an angler identified the select species as his or her primary target.
- Secondary Target: Provides an effort estimate for all trips on which an angler identified the select species as his or her secondary target.
- Caught/Available Catch (Type A): Provides an effort estimate for all trips on which the select species was caught and brought back to the dock in a form that could be identified by a sampler.
- Harvested/Unavailable Catch (Type B1): Provides an effort estimate for all trips on which the select species was caught and killed but not available for identification by a sampler.
- Released/Unavailable Catch (Type B2): Provides an effort estimate for all trips on which the select species was caught and released alive.
Selecting more than one of these options will provide an effort estimate for all trips on which one or more of your selections was true. For example, selecting Primary Target, Secondary Target, and Released will provide an effort estimate for all trips on which an angler identified the select species as his or her primary or secondary target on the trip, and/or the select species was caught and released alive.
- Inland: Inshore bodies of saltwater or brackish water (e.g., bays, estuaries, or sounds). Does not include inland freshwater areas.
- State Territorial Sea: An area extending three nautical miles from shore in all states and territories except for Puerto Rico and the Gulf coast of Florida, where the seaward boundary measures three leagues (about 10 miles). Does not include inland areas.
- State Waters: Both inland waters and state territorial seas.
- Federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): An area contiguous to all state territorial seas, extending seaward 200 nautical miles.
- Ocean: Both state territorial seas and the EEZ.
Geographical areas are arranged in geographical order by sub-region. These sub-regions include:
- North Atlantic (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut)
- Mid-Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia)
- South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida)
- Gulf of Mexico (Florida, West Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana)
- Pacific (California, Oregon, and Washington)
- North and Mid-Atlantic
- Atlantic Coast
- Atlantic and Gulf Coast
- Pacific Coast
- Caribbean (Puerto Rico)
Estimates are available for an entire sub-region or for states within a sub-region. For example, selecting “North Atlantic” will produce estimates summed across the five states within that sub-region. Selecting “North Atlantic by State” will produce the sub-region’s estimates on a state-by-state basis.
Both Florida and California are divided into two regions: East and West Florida and Southern and Northern California). Selecting “Florida” or “California” will produce estimates for the whole state.
The Large Pelagics Survey is conducted on the Atlantic coast from Virginia through Maine. To complement NOAA Fisheries’ Highly Migratory Species management, these states are divided into two regions: Northern, which stretches from Maine through northern New Jersey, and Southern, which stretches from southern New Jersey to Virginia. (New Jersey is divided along the border of Atlantic and Ocean counties.) Due to the limited scale of recreational fishing for large pelagic fish, several states are further combined into two-state groups. These include Maryland and Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and New Hampshire and Maine.
HMS Catch Card programs operate in Maryland and North Carolina.
Distributions of fork or centerline lengths are available for select species by inch or centimeter group. Inch groups contain fish measuring X.00 to X.99 inches long. For example, inch group nine includes fish between 9.00 and 9.99 inches long.
Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) and Fishing Effort Survey (FES) calibrations have been applied to length distribution estimates from Maine through Louisiana dating back to 1981. Estimates from Hawaii (all years) and Puerto Rico (prior to 2014) are based on Marine Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) methodology.
“Percent of Fish” and “Landings” (or number-at-length) are provided by length group. Records with missing length group values indicate the numbers of A+B1 landings (or observed plus unobserved harvest) with no length information.
Percent Standard Error only applies to landings (or number-at-length) estimates.
See Type of Fishing.
Participation estimates are divided into three categories, based on an angler’s area of residence: coastal, non-coastal, and out-of-state.
Coastal designations are static in the Northeast (from Maine to Virginia) but variable in the Southeast. From North Carolina to Florida during Waves 1, 2, and 6 (January through April and November through December), coastal describes anglers from counties within 25 miles of the coast (or 50 miles, in North Carolina). During Waves 3, 4, and 5 (May through October), coastal describes anglers from counties within 50 miles of the coast (or 100 miles, in North Carolina).
Non-coastal describes anglers from counties outside of a state’s defined coastal zone.
Out-of-state describes anglers from other states or countries who came to the state and fished.
When summing participants across categories and geographic areas:
- All participants within a single state can be added together.
- Coastal and non-coastal anglers across states and sub-regions can be added together.
- Out-of-state anglers should not be added across states or sub-regions. Because an out-of-state angler could have fished in more than one state that is not his or her state of residence, the addition of out-of-state anglers across states or sub-regions may result in the double counting of some individuals.
Percent Standard Error (PSE)
Percent standard error, or PSE, is a measure of precision that expresses the standard error of an estimate as a percentage of that estimate. Precision refers to the dispersion of sample measurements used to calculate an estimate and the resulting variability in the estimate.
Large PSEs indicate low precision. Small PSEs—which indicate more precise estimates—are more desirable. Generally speaking, the larger the sample size, the greater the precision. When we group year, state, wave, or mode estimates, for example, our sample size—and the precision of our estimates—increases. Catch estimates for commonly caught species are often more precise than catch estimates for rare event or pulse fisheries.
Data users should consider the width of confidence intervals around point estimates before drawing conclusions about these estimates. A confidence interval is calculated as the estimate minus 1.96 times the standard error (the lower limit) and the estimate plus 1.96 times the standard error (the upper limit). A 95 percent confidence interval, for example, means we are 95 percent sure a point estimate’s true value lies between the upper and lower limit.
Percent standard error is automatically included with all requested information, with the exception of mean lengths. Because calculating mean lengths is a complicated process that relies on various assumptions, these calculations should only be made on a case-by-case basis. Because of this metric’s limited use, the absence of PSEs should not cause problems or lead to incorrect conclusions about a fishery.
NOAA Fisheries conducts its recreational fishing statistics program on the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida; the Gulf coast from Florida to Mississippi; and in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. (In Texas, marine recreational fishing is monitored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; in Alaska, it is monitored by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.)
Data collected from other federal or state surveys are not included in our query tool. We advise caution when comparing estimates across an extended period of time because of changes in sampling coverage over the years.
- With a few exceptions, our survey program has not collected data during Wave 1 (January – February) on the Atlantic coast north of Florida since 1980.
- In the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, catch data from party boats have not been collected since 1985. (The Southeast Fisheries Science Center administers the Southeast Region Headboat Survey to collect data from party boats between North Carolina and Texas.) Our for-hire estimates from these sub-regions only include data from charter boats.
- On the Pacific coast prior to 1998, salmon and ocean boat trips were not sampled during certain waves because these trips were surveyed by state natural resource agencies. (Today, Pacific states continue to survey salmon fishing, ocean boat fishing, and California passenger fishing vessels. Estimates for these fisheries are available from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.)
Additional time periods in which our survey program has not been conducted include:
- 1981-2000: All waves in the U.S. Caribbean.
- 1981-2002: All waves in Hawaii.
- 1986 – Present: Wave 2 (March – April) in Maine and New Hampshire.
- 1987 – Present: Wave 6 (November – December) in Maine and New Hampshire.
- 1990-1993: All waves in California, Oregon, and Washington.
- 1993-1994: All waves in Washington.
- 1994: Wave 1 (January – February) in Northern California and Oregon.
- 1994: Wave 6 (November – December) in Oregon.
- 1995: Wave 1 (January – February) in Southern California and Oregon.
- 2003: Waves 4-6 (July – December) in Oregon shore modes.
- 2003: Wave 6 (November – December) in Washington shore modes.
- 2004 – Present: All waves in California, Oregon, and Washington.
- 2014 – Present: All waves in Louisiana.
- September 2017 – Present: All waves in the U.S. Caribbean.
Common species are arranged in alphabetical order.
- Annual: Provides estimates for each year during a select time period.
- By Wave: Provides estimates for each two-month reference period during a select time period.
- Cumulative: Provides cumulative estimates from a select year through a select wave.
- Single Wave: Provides estimates for a select two-month reference period during a select time period.
Type of Catch
- Type A Catch: Fish that are caught and brought back to the dock in a form that can be identified by samplers. This catch type is also called observed harvest.
- Type B1 Catch: Fish that are caught, released dead, used for bait, or filleted, and are identified by individual anglers. This catch type is also called unobserved harvest.
- Type B2 Catch: Fish that are released alive and identified by individual anglers. This catch type is also called released.
- Harvest: Type A + B1.
- Total Catch: Type A + Type B1 + Type B2.
Large Pelagics Survey (LPS) catch types include kept, or fish retained by the vessel; alive, or fish released alive; and dead, or dead fish discarded at sea.
Type of Fishing
Estimates can be divided into five categories, based on an angler’s fishing mode: shore, private/rental boat, party (head) boat, charter boat, and all for-hire modes combined, which includes party (head) boat and charter boat.
Sampling of the for-hire sector has varied over time.
- From 1981 through 1985, all for-hire boats were sampled as one category, called the party/charter mode.
- From 1986 through 2004, all for-hire boats in the North and Mid-Atlantic (from Maine to Virginia) continued to be sampled as one undifferentiated party/charter mode. In the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, the only for-hire vessels MRIP sampled were charter boats. (Party boats were sampled by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s Southeast Region Head Boat Survey.)
- In 2005, charter boats and party (head) boats began to be sampled by the For-Hire Survey and stratified Access Point Angler Intercept Survey. Separate charter boat and party (head) boat estimates are produced, and undifferentiated party/charter sampling is no longer performed.
Large Pelagics Survey and HMS Catch Card estimates are limited to private and charter boat modes. The private boat mode includes vessels with an HMS Angling or Atlantic Tunas General permit. The charter boat mode includes vessels with an HMS Charter/Headboat permit. Vessels targeting large pelagics without an HMS permit are also sampled through our dockside intercept survey.
In North Carolina, shore mode is further divided into Beach/Bank mode and Man Made mode.
Two-month reference periods.
- Wave 1: January – February
- Wave 2: March – April
- Wave 3: May – June
- Wave 4: July – August
- Wave 5: September – October
- Wave 6: November – December
Large Pelagics Survey (LPS) estimates are not available by wave, but by month during the sampling period (June – October).
Use caution with weight data. Weight estimates are minimums, and may not reflect actual total weight.
Weight Estimates Prior to 2004
Prior to 2004, we calculated weight estimates by multiplying the estimated number harvested in a cell (year/wave/state/mode/area/species) by the mean weight of the measured fish in that cell. Sometimes, an estimate of harvest is available without a mean weight because:
- All harvest was reported by anglers (Type B1), or
- Samplers couldn’t weigh any fish.
If a cell is missing a mean weight and we have at least two fish measured in the state (all fishing areas and modes combined), we substitute the mean for the whole state for that wave. (We need two measured fish to produce a variance estimate.)
If the mean weight is still missing after state substitution, we use the mean from the whole sub-region for that wave. (The “two fish rule” still applies.)
Weight Estimates 2004 to Present
As part of the MRIP re-estimation project, we recalculated all estimates of landings by weight (lb or kg) using the same design-based estimation methodology used to recalculate the estimates of catch in numbers of fish. We also developed a new method to handle missing weights. This method uses a mix of hot and cold deck imputation, as well as length-weight modeling to impute or fill in missing length or weight values by species at the individual angler-trip level.
For individual fish records where lengths are present, missing weights are imputed using length-weight modeling of the form Weight = a*Length^b. In most cases, models are fit by species and two-month wave in the current year. Should a model fail to converge, models are fit by species using the most recent decade of data.
For intercepted angler trips with landings but no corresponding length and weight measurements, paired length and weight observations are imputed from complete cases using hot and cold deck imputation. Up to five rounds of imputation are conducted in an attempt to fill in missing values. The rounds begin with imputation cells that correspond to the most detailed MRIP estimation cells but are aggregated to higher levels in subsequent rounds to bring in more length-weight data.
- Round 1: Current year, wave, sub-region, state, mode, area fished, species.
- Round 2: Current year, half-year, sub-region, state, mode, species.
- Round 3: Current + most recent prior year, wave, sub-region, state, mode, area fished, species.
- Round 4: Current + most recent prior year, sub-region, state, mode, species.
- Round 5: Current + most recent prior year, sub-region, species.
For All Years
If fish weights are still missing after each imputation method has been applied, the weight estimate will remain missing. At this point, it is up to the user to determine whether to substitute and, if so, what substitution is most appropriate to use. We do not make these decisions because the information needs and sensitivity of the data vary among species.
The phenomenon of missing weights is more widespread with large fish and rarely caught species. The existence and/or extent of missing weights for a weight estimates query will be provided in the column labeled “Landings (no.) without Size Information.” This column contains the number of landed (Type A+B1) fish that are not included in the weight estimate column labeled “Harvest (A+B1) Total Weight.” If the “Landings (no.) without Size Information” column contains a value of zero, then all landed fish are included in the weight estimate.
The MRFSS/MRIP Comparisons Catch Data Query provides estimates at the annual level for three year types:
- Calendar Year (Standard Annual)
- May Fishing Year (May 1 – April 30)
- July Fishing Year (July 1 – June 30)
Each range begins in the Earliest Year selected in the From field, and continues into the next year, if appropriate. For example, if you were to select From: 2009, To: 2009, and Year Type: July Fishing Year, the query tool would provide estimates for July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.