What the Marine Recreational Information Program Does
Through a national network of regional surveys, MRIP produces recreational fishing statistics to meet science and management needs.
Since our first Implementation Plan was published in October 2008, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) has worked to improve its recreational fishing surveys to meet science and management needs. Through MRIP, NOAA Fisheries continuously evaluates, tests, and implements catch and effort survey improvements and develops new survey designs to reduce bias, fill information gaps, and produce more precise and accurate recreational fishing statistics. Fisheries science and management are dynamic processes with evolving data needs, and our survey and estimation methods must be flexible enough to address these demands and transparent enough to allow scientists, managers, and stakeholders to participate in their development and use.
In 2017, MRIP published a five-year Strategic Plan (PDF, 31 pages) to formalize our longstanding approach toward improving recreational fishing statistics and ensuring the needs of our data customers are met. This plan defines our vision, direction, and metrics for success, and outlines the goals we are driving toward and the strategies and tactics we will undertake to achieve them.
- Meet customer needs. Provide recreational catch, effort, and participation statistics that meet the defined and prioritized needs of our regional and national customers.
- Provide quality products. Achieve consistency, quality, timeliness, accessibility, and transparency in data collection, estimate production, and program operations.
- Increase understanding. Strengthen communications with partners and stakeholders to improve their knowledge of the properties and use limitations of catch statistics, and to build their confidence in the data.
- Ensure sound science. Maintain a strong foundation that includes robustness, integrity, transparency, and innovation, and that develops and incorporates new advancements in survey design, data collection, and data analysis.
- Operate collaboratively. Work with state, interstate, regional, and national partners to support cost-effective and responsive recreational data collection and catch estimation.
- Meet program resources and funding needs. Ensure the program’s value and needs are documented and communicated; resources are used efficiently; opportunities to expand capability through partner resources are explored; and actions to ensure sufficient funding to support the needs of the program are taken.
With significant improvements to our catch and effort surveys now in place, our current areas of focus include integrating data from new methods into science and decision-making and identifying and addressing the prioritized needs of our regional partners.
2017-2022 MRIP Strategic Plan (PDF, 31 pages). This document defines our vision, direction, and metrics for success, and outlines the goals we are driving toward and the strategies and tactics we will undertake.
- Hoshin X Matrix (PDF, 3 pages). This strategic planning tool ensures the alignment of our goals, strategies, tactics, and outcomes. An X indicates a direct correlation between a corresponding row and a column; an O indicates an indirect correlation.
- Tactical Implementation Schedule (PDF, 3 pages). This spreadsheet includes additional details about the tactics included in the 2017-2022 MRIP Strategic Plan. It explains how tactics relate to outcomes and describes a sequence of events.
- Public Comments and MRIP Response (PDF, 19 pages). Stakeholders provided more than 150 comments on a draft 2017-2022 MRIP Strategic Plan during a public comment period between April and June 2017. This spreadsheet includes a list of these comments and MRIP’s response and/or revision to the plan.
Framework for Addressing the National Academies Recommendations (PDF, 11 pages). This document describes our approach for responding to the 28 recommendations in the National Research Council’s 2017 review of NOAA Fisheries’ marine recreational information collection efforts.
MRIP Development Plan (PDF, 10 pages). This document describes the steps needed to redesign the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS), following the National Research Council’s 2006 review of NOAA Fisheries’ marine recreational fishery survey methods and the 2007 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which required the Department of Commerce to develop and implement an improved recreational fisheries survey program by January 1, 2009.
Our recreational catch and effort data are collected through a national network of regionally specific surveys. Regional programs allow the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific Coasts, the Pacific Islands, Alaska, and the Caribbean to collect data that will meet their unique needs. National standards ensure all recreational fisheries survey and estimation methods withstand independent peer review and allow the resulting statistics to be used in stock assessments and management actions.
As MRIP evolves from developing and testing survey improvements to putting new methods to practice in the field, our Executive Steering Committee has adopted a hybrid approach (PDF, 45 pages) to implementation. Under this approach:
- NOAA Fisheries—working through MRIP—maintains a central role in developing and certifying survey methods and establishing national standards and best practices.
- Regions—working through Regional Implementation Teams—are responsible for selecting survey methods and managing data collection.
MRIP Implementation Plan
Published in October 2008, the MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 46 pages) outlines a plan for putting MRIP into action and describes the overarching priorities of the program. Annual implementation plan updates are listed below.
- 2020-2021 Update (PDF, 16 pages)
- 2019-2020 Update (PDF, 14 pages)
- 2018-2019 Update (PDF, 14 pages)
- 2017-2018 Update (PDF, 14 pages)
- 2016-2017 Update (PDF, 16 pages)
- 2015-2016 Update (PDF, 16 pages)
- 2014-2015 Update (PDF, 20 pages)
- 2013-2014 Update (PDF, 18 pages)
- 2012-2013 Update (PDF, 19 pages)
- 2011-2012 Update (PDF, 30 pages)
- 2010-2011 Update (PDF, 54 pages)
- 2009-2010 Update (PDF, 56 pages)
Regional Implementation Plans
Regional Implementation Plans represent a significant shift in MRIP’s course. These documents clearly establish that individual regions are responsible for determining which survey methods are most suitable for their science, stock assessment, and management needs. These documents also allow regions to identify, prioritize, and estimate the cost of additions and improvements to their data collection programs. These plans help MRIP develop a national inventory of partner needs, as well as annual priority-setting criteria for supporting them.
- ACCSP Atlantic Coast MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 16 pages)
- GulfFIN MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 17 pages)
- Pacific RecFIN MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 30 pages)
- Pacific Islands MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 30 pages)
- U.S. Caribbean MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 29 pages)
- Atlantic HMS MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 36 pages)
Regional Implementation Teams are expected to submit annual reports that detail their progress toward executing their Regional Implementation Plans. These reports should describe data collection activities and expenditures, and assess the extent to which regional goals and needs for recreational fisheries statistics have been satisfied. Regional partnerships funded through a NOAA Fisheries grant (e.g., ACCSP, GulfFIN, Pacific RecFIN) can incorporate these updates into existing reporting requirements (e.g., annual grant reports).
Investing in Implementation
NOAA Fisheries follows a clear set of national guidelines to prioritize its investments in survey implementation. Each year, the Office of Science and Technology uses these guidelines to develop metrics for assessing Regional Implementation Plans in order to set national program priorities. To the extent possible, funding for improved survey methods will be permanent.
Survey Standards and Best Practices
Estimating recreational fishing activity is a statistical, logistical, and mathematical challenge. The rigorous review of both the survey and estimation methods we use and the data we produce confirm the scientific integrity of our work. Each step in this review process is conducted in cooperation with and in full view of our partners and stakeholders, who serve on established MRIP teams or ad hoc groups of reviewers.
For our data to serve as the foundation of sound policies and sustainable stewardship, it must be trusted by the people who use it and the people who are impacted by it. Survey certification ensures all of the methods that support our regional surveys are able to produce scientifically viable catch and effort data. Quality assurance and quality control minimize errors in our estimates and instill confidence among our partners and stakeholders.
Data Review Process
To minimize the potential for error in our estimates, we follow a number of best practices for quality assurance—which works to prevent invalid data from entering our system—and quality control—which works to detect and correct errors that make it into our data.
To support quality assurance, or QA, we ensure interviewers are trained, ensure data entry is intuitive, automate tasks, and conduct verification interviews. To support quality control, or QC, we use statistical software to systematically identify invalid, outlier, and mismatched data before and after we produce estimates. We also manually review our data for potential errors at each step of data analysis. An unusually high or low catch estimate, for instance, will be identified and investigated before estimates are published.
We publish our data in two forms: “preliminary” and “final.” Publishing preliminary data and using tools and information that help users understand the limitations of our data allow anyone with questions and concerns to raise them for further review, investigation, and, if necessary, correction before the data become final.
MRIP funds work to review recreational fishing survey programs and improve recreational fishing surveys across the United States and its Territories. Indeed, all of our recreational fishing survey methods undergo extensive testing, evaluation, and peer review. This research ensures our surveys deliver high-quality results and that any new method we might adopt to keep pace with emerging science and information needs yields tangible improvements to our work.
While large-scale changes can be highly visible and small-scale changes can be less obvious, all changes to our survey methods enhance the quality of our recreational fishing data. Scientists, managers, and anglers help ensure our research adds value to our program and to the individuals we impact.
Complete descriptions of all MRIP-funded research can be found in our project database.
Project Review Process
Before the results of an MRIP-supported research project can be considered valid, the project must go through a process of review. (If the project could lead to changes in our recreational fishing survey methods, it must go through a process of certification.)
All projects must be approved by the Research and Evaluation Team. This team ensures proposed projects meet existing priorities and follow sound designs and methodologies. This is an iterative process, throughout which the Project Team and Research and Evaluation Team discuss potential changes before the project is approved and launched. Once a project is underway, monthly status reports submitted to the Research and Evaluation Team keep the work on track.
Once a project is complete, the findings are reviewed by the Research and Evaluation Team and brought to the Program Management Team. The Program Management Team determines whether actions should be taken to ensure the project’s products (e.g., scientific or statistical information) meet NOAA’s Information Quality Guidelines. These guidelines ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information that will be disseminated; actions to bring information into compliance with these guidelines can include independent peer review. If a project is found to include influential scientific information, it will undergo external peer review and be subject to notice in the Office of Management and Budget Bulletin for Peer Review .
After any issues are fully addressed, the results and recommendations are shared with the Executive Steering Committee.