The Marine Recreational Information Program – Science and You.
You may not know it but as an individual angler your catch does count! For some species, like the ever popular striped bass, recreational catch far exceeds commercial catch. For this and all recreational species, your catch information is a critical component of the fish stock assessment and management processes. These data are gathered at the local and national level through a national survey. Without the survey, and your cooperation, proper management of your favorite species is a near impossible task.
Since 1983 recreational fisheries catch and effort data have been collected along the United States Atlantic Coast through the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey. This survey has been administered, by the National Marine Fisheries Service with help from states agencies, like the Division of Marine Fisheries here in Massachusetts. Last year the program evolved to MRIP, the Marine Recreational Information Program, to improve the quality of the harvest and catch estimates.
MRIP collects catch and effort data through a two part survey. Part one is a telephone survey to fishing households as identified through the recreational permit holder database. Phone surveyors gather information to estimate the number of angler trips within a state during the two months leading up to the phone call. Information on whether a person fishes from shore or on the water (private/rental or charter or head boat trip) is also gathered.
Part two of the survey is the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey, during which field samplers interview anglers at coastal locations when they’re done fishing for the day. Similarly, a sample of boat-based anglers will be intercepted for survey when they arrive back at the dock.
Beginning in 2013, all intercept surveys in Massachusetts will be conducted by the state’s MarineFisheries staff. In addition to a short list of demographic questions, surveyors will collect information on catch including species and numbers caught and species and numbers discarded. They will also take a limited number of length and weight measurements of whole fish landed. These catch data will be used with the phone-based effort data to estimate the total numbers of fish caught and released for most locally important, recreationally caught marine species. All the information gathered is confidential and known only to the interviewers and data entry personnel. The information is available to end users, but only in a compiled form where all personal information is removed.
By expanding the Division’s participation in the survey, we not only hope to increase the quality of the data but improve our contact with recreational saltwater anglers in Massachusetts. By participating in MRIP surveys you are telling the federal government and the state of Massachusetts how important good fisheries management is to you. In other words, your catch does count!
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.