NOAA Fisheries Announces Mistakes From Past Recreational Fishing Effort Survey

NOAA announced a large-scale follow-up study after results from its recreational fishing effort survey suggested the order of the questions in the survey may lead to an overestimation of fishing effort. Published in August 2023, “Evaluating Measurement Error in the MRIP Fishing Effort Survey” was one of several studies NOAA Fisheries conducted to evaluate sources of bias in the original Fishery Effort Survey (FES), which aimed to estimate total recreational catch and improve upon stock assessments and fisheries management decisions.

The FES was a household mail survey administered to anglers from Maine to Mississippi (including Hawaii), and aimed to produce quality recreational fishing trip data for both boat and shore fishing trips, but questions surrounding biases in question orders led to a need for a more robust, follow-up study in 2024. The findings from the survey suggested the methods in question may not always be the most optimal.

Due to this mistake, NOAA’s upcoming follow-up study is planned to span a longer duration, involve a larger sample size and it will run concurrently with the ongoing survey, enabling comparisons of results. If the findings support a revised survey design, overall estimates within the fishery are anticipated to change. It’s worth noting that while overall trends might shift, stock statuses tend to remain consistent. NOAA has affirmed its readiness to scrutinize and transparently analyze the 2024 study results, with a commitment to continual improvement in recreational data collection processes. Be on the lookout for it in the mail soon.