Types of Recreational Fishing Surveys
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program uses a suite of surveys to collect data from anglers and for-hire operators.
NOAA Fisheries' Marine Recreational Information Program is the state-regional-federal partnership that develops, implements, and continually improves a national network of recreational fishing surveys. This partnership includes more than 25 state and regional data collection programs.
In some cases, recreational data collection programs are administered by a NOAA Fisheries Program Office, Regional Office, or Science Center. In other cases, these programs are administered by a state or territorial agency. The Marine Recreational Information Program administers four recreational fishing surveys used to estimate recreational catch and effort along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts:
- The Access Point Angler Intercept Survey, Fishing Effort Survey, and For-Hire Survey are used to estimate recreational catch and effort from Maine through Mississippi.
- The specialized Large Pelagics Survey is used to estimate recreational catch and effort for large pelagic or highly migratory species in the Greater Atlantic.
Data users can access Marine Recreational Information Program estimates through the MRIP Query Tool. The tool's National Summary Query includes estimates from other state and federal surveys.
Access Point Angler Intercept Survey
From Maine through Mississippi, this in-person intercept survey is conducted with recreational anglers as they complete their fishing trips at public fishing access sites. (From Maine through Virginia, this survey also includes an at-sea headboat sampling program.) During each APAIS interview, state samplers record:
- The location, date, and interview time.
- The mode of the angler’s trip (e.g., shore, private or rental boat, or for-hire vessel).
- The general area where the angler fished (e.g., inland, state territorial sea, or federal Exclusive Economic Zone).
- The species, number, and disposition of the angler’s catch (e.g., observed harvest, reported harvest, or released alive).
- If possible, the length and weight of harvested fish.
The resulting data are used to estimate private angler and for-hire catch-per-trip, and to account for off-frame fishing effort from private anglers, charter boats, and headboats.
Fishing Effort Survey
From Maine through Mississippi and in Hawaii, this mail survey is sent to a sample of residential households in coastal states. Because research shows response rates increase when participants are compensated for their time and asked about topics other than fishing, the FES includes a $2 prepaid cash incentive and questions about weather and outdoor activity. The fishing effort section of the questionnaire asks each member of the sampled household to report:
- Number of days fished from shore in state of residence
- Number of days fished from private or rental boat in state of residence
The resulting data are used to estimate private angler effort from shore and private boats.
From Maine through Mississippi, this telephone survey is conducted with a sample of state and federally permitted for-hire vessel representatives. While NOAA Fisheries administers the FHS, state agencies conduct it. During each FHS interview, state samplers ask vessel operators to report vessel-fishing activity for specified one-week reference periods and to recount details from each trip. These details include:
- Number of anglers that fished from boat
- Hours, area, and in some states, method fished (e.g., casting, drifting, trolling)
- Species targeted
The resulting data are used to estimate for-hire fishing effort (charter and headboat modes).
Large Pelagics Survey
From Maine through Virginia, three specialized surveys—known together as the Large Pelagics Survey—collect catch and effort data for tuna, sharks, billfishes, swordfish, and other offshore recreational species.
- The Large Pelagics Intercept Survey collects catch-per-trip information from private and for-hire vessels as they complete their trips targeting large pelagic fish.
- The Large Pelagics Telephone Survey collects effort information from a sample of Atlantic Highly Migratory Species permit holders.
- The Large Pelagics Biological Survey collects length and weight data and biological samples from bluefin tuna.
The resulting data are used to estimate private and charter boat catch and effort of large pelagics along the Atlantic coast.