Transparency is one of our core values, achieved through open access to our products, tools, and processes. This section provides a detailed look at the methods we use to count angler catch, why we use them, and how they work together to produce estimates of total recreational catch.
By sampling a subset of a population—in this case fishermen and fisheries—we are able to use statistics to understand the characteristics of the whole population. Sampling and estimation can be extremely complex. However, we experience results from sampling in our everyday lives; for example, political polling, health statistics, and television ratings.
Learn more about survey statistics
Generally speaking, to estimate total recreational catch, we need to estimate both the catch per angler trip (catch rate) and the number of angler trips (effort).
Catch rate is the estimated average catch per angler trip. An angler trip is an individual fishing trip taken by a single angler; it can be for any amount of time, whether it is half an hour or an entire day. Catch rates are estimated using data about catch from interviews of fishermen as they complete fishing trips. From these interviews, we can estimate (per angler trip):
Fishing effort refers to the estimated number of angler fishing trips taken. Currently, fishing effort is estimated by conducting telephone and mail surveys of coastal households and for-hire boat captains, as well as on-site survey methods in some regions. From these interviews, we can estimate:
State and regional partners use a system of surveys to gather the information needed to generate these estimates. Once our scientists have this data, they use two methods of estimation.
Learn more about estimation methods
Authority: The collection of this information is authorized under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1852 et. seq.) and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act of 1975.
Purpose: Collection of recreational fisheries...
Each year NOAA Fisheries compiles key fisheries statistics from the previous year into an annual snapshot documenting fishing’s importance to the nation. The 2016 report provides landings totals for both domestic recreational and commercial fisheries by species and allows us to track important indicators such as annual seafood consumption and the productivity of top fishing ports. These statistics provide valuable insights — but to fully understand the overall condition of our fisheries, they must be looked at in combination with other biological, social, and economic factors of ecosystem and ocean health.
We conduct a wide range of surveys and associated economic analyses to assess the costs and benefits of fisheries management decisions. These analyses directly support our stewardship goal of maximizing benefits to the nation while ensuring the long-term...
Timeline of Data Additions and Updates
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All estimates are subject to change. Please...
NOAA Fisheries estimates recreational fishing catch by surveying a random sample of anglers as they complete their fishing trips. We use the public access fishing site register to help us determine where to send our samplers.
NOAA Fisheries maintains...