Survey Certification for the Marine Recreational Information Program
Survey and estimation methods certified by MRIP meet a shared set of standards, undergo independent peer review, and receive approval from NOAA Fisheries.
To ensure recreational catch and effort data are consistent across the nation’s fisheries and derived from methods that are scientifically sound, the Marine Recreational Information Program has established a comprehensive and collaborative catch and effort survey certification process. Certified survey and estimation methods meet a shared set of standards, undergo independent peer review, and receive approval from the MRIP Executive Steering Committee and NOAA Fisheries leadership. Once certified, a survey is eligible to receive financial support from MRIP and to be used in federal stock assessments and fisheries management.
To be considered for certification, survey and estimation methods must fall into one of three categories:
- New or replacement methods.
- Modifications or recommended improvements to existing methods.
- Existing methods.
To be treated as the best scientific information available for use in stock assessments and management actions, a transition plan must describe how the data derived from a new or improved survey design can be incorporated into the historical time series and how the differences in estimates that might arise from the use of new or improved data collection methods can be accounted for.
Supporting the development and certification of new catch and effort survey designs demonstrates MRIP’s commitment to helping state and regional partners meet their unique data needs.
The decision to develop and implement an alternative or supplemental survey should reflect Regional Implementation Plan priorities. Certification results in a formal decision that a documented survey design is capable of providing accurate and relatively unbiased statistical estimates of the population parameters it is meant to measure. Certification means:
- Survey designs are part of MRIP.
- Survey designs are eligible for MRIP funding.
- Data are eligible to be considered the best scientific information available.
- Statistics are eligible for use in federal fisheries assessment and management.
Before a certification request can be submitted, the methods for a survey must be documented and its feasibility tested through a pilot study. An evaluation of the pilot study’s results should be submitted with the certification request.
To earn certification:
- The survey methods and pilot study results must be reviewed and evaluated by independent peer reviewers.
- The survey methods must be endorsed by the peer review against an established set of criteria.
- The survey methods must be recommended for approval by the appropriate MRIP team(s).
- The survey methods must receive approval from the MRIP Executive Steering Committee and from NOAA Fisheries leadership.
In general, MRIP only supports those surveys whose methods have been certified. For MRIP to support the use of survey methods that have not earned certification, a plan to certify those methods must be in place.
Implementation and Transition
While certification is a critical step toward implementation, it does not guarantee a survey will be put in place. The decision to implement a certified survey design depends on the cost and practicality of changing methods, as well as the implementing partner’s unique data needs.
When a new survey is meant to replace an existing survey, a transition plan must be developed to describe how the new data will be integrated with and calibrated against the historical record. In other words, there must be plans for:
- Integrating data and/or estimates from the specialized survey with data and/or estimates from the survey it was designed to supplement or replace.
- Calibrating estimates produced by the new survey approach against estimates produced by the survey it was designed to replace or against estimates produced by other surveys conducted for the same purpose in neighboring states.
Developing a transition plan is a critical step if data from a certified survey are to be used in federal fisheries assessment and management. Transition plans typically require conducting the old and new or improved surveys alongside one another, developing calibration methods to account for the differences between the estimates derived from both surveys, and using these calibration methods to revise the historical time series. This process ensures a consistent long-term time series of catch statistics to support stock assessment and management.
Accountability and Maintenance
Once a certified survey has been put in place, the survey administrator will be asked to submit an annual report that describes data collection procedures, response rates, and key survey estimates. These reports ensure certified surveys are adhering to applicable standards and are being implemented as certified.
If an annual report indicates a certified survey is being implemented with design elements that were not part of its certification, a review will be launched to determine:
- If the survey should maintain its certified status.
- If the survey should continue to receive funding.
- If the statistics derived from the survey data should continue to be eligible for use in federal stock assessments and management actions.
Survey administrators can request a review of changes to a certified survey design to determine whether these changes are substantive enough to require a new certification request.
Certified Survey and Estimation Methods
Access Point Angler Intercept Survey
The Access Point Angler Intercept Survey gathers recreational catch information through in-person interviews with anglers at public access fishing sites on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
- Memorandum for the Approval of Implementation of a New Method for Conducting Intercept Surveys of Anglers and Associated Attachments (PDF, 109 pages)
Weighted Estimation Method
This design-unbiased weighted estimation method determines catch rate and its variance using data from the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey.
- Memorandum for the Approval of Implementation of a New Method for Estimating Recreational Catch from Survey Data (PDF, 5 pages)
- A Report of the MRIP Sampling and Estimation Project: Improved Estimation Methods for the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey Component of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (PDF, 61 pages)
Fishing Effort Survey
The Fishing Effort Survey collects fishing effort data through a mail-based survey distributed to anglers.
- Memorandum for the Certification of Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Fishing Effort Survey Method (PDF, 6 pages)
- Development and Testing of Recreational Fishing Effort Surveys: Testing a Mail Survey Design (PDF, 56 pages)
LA Creel is a general survey the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries uses to estimate recreational fishing catch and effort. It is an alternative to MRIP’s Access Point Angler Intercept Survey and Fishing Effort Survey, and was designed to increase the precision of catch estimates for offshore fisheries, provide basin-specific estimates that are not feasible under MRIP, and provide preliminary estimates during the fishing season.
- Memorandum for the Certification of Fishing Survey Method for LA Creel and Associated Attachments (PDF, 79 pages)
Tails n’ Scales
Tails n’ Scales is a supplemental survey the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources uses to monitor charter and private boat fishing for red snapper.
- Memorandum for the Certification of Fishing Survey Method for Tails n’ Scales and Associated Attachments (PDF, 49 pages)
Snapper Check is a supplemental survey the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources uses to monitor charter and private boat fishing for red snapper.
- Memorandum for the Certification of Fishing Survey Method for Snapper Check and Associated Attachments (PDF, 128 pages)
Gulf Reef Fish Survey
The Gulf Reef Fish Survey (GRFS) is a supplemental survey the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission uses to monitor private boat catch and effort for a suite of reef fish species, including red snapper, gag, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, red grouper, black grouper, vermilion snapper, and gray triggerfish.
- Memorandum for the Certification of Fishing Survey Method for Gulf Reef Fish Survey and Associated Attachments (PDF, 171 pages)
MRIP follows the requirements of the Information Quality Act (Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554)), which ensures the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of disseminated information.