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Sustainable Living

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Rhode Island Saltwater Fishing

Sustainable Fishing Starts with You

By Dave Bard, NOAA affiliate

Have you ever noticed people with clipboards down at your local docks, piers, and jetties interviewing anglers? They are likely specially trained samplers from the Rhode Island Department of Fish and Wildlife (RIDFW) collecting key information from recreational fishermen through the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS). This in-person survey, conducted from Maine to Mississippi, helps ensure sustainable fisheries and lots of great fishing opportunities for our generation of fishermen — and for generations to come.

RIDFW is part of the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), a state-regional-federal partnership responsible for developing, improving, and implementing surveys that measure how many trips saltwater anglers take and how many fish they catch. This vital information – combined with other data, such as commercial catch and biological research – enables scientists and managers to assess and maintain sustainable U.S. fish stocks.

In the APAIS, RIDFW samplers interview anglers to collect information about the number and species of fish being caught recreationally in Rhode Island. They weigh and measure a sample of your catch and also ask a few quick questions about the trip you just completed. Information about your fishing activity is crucial to understanding the health of fish stocks both locally and nationally.

There is another MRIP survey on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts that is equally important in understanding fishing activity. This survey measures shore and private boat fishing effort, or the number of fishing trips people take during a given time period. The Coastal Household Telephone Survey (CHTS) has been collecting fishing effort data since 1981 and will soon be replaced by a new mail survey called Fishing Effort Survey (FES). The FES uses saltwater fishing license and registration information to better target the fishing population. Currently, both effort surveys are being conducted to facilitate a smooth transition to using only the FES after 2017.

To estimate the total number of fish caught by recreational anglers, catch survey information is combined with effort survey information to create a total catch estimate.

RIDFW and MRIP rely upon anglers like you to provide key data on your fishing activity. What you tell us helps us understand what’s happening in local and national fisheries.

If you are contacted by survey staff, please take a few minutes to participate by answering their questions about your fishing. Sustainable fishing starts with accurate information, and accurate information starts with you.

For more information, visit the MRIP web site at