About the Marine Recreational Information Program
The Marine Recreational Information Program administers a suite of recreational fishing surveys and produces catch and effort estimates that support science and management needs.
NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program is the state-regional-federal partnership that develops, implements, and continually improves a national network of recreational fishing surveys to estimate total recreational catch. These estimates are combined with commercial catch data and biological research to help scientists and managers assess and maintain sustainable fish stocks.
- NOAA Fisheries maintains a central role in developing data collection and estimation methods, administering recreational fishing surveys, implementing survey and data standards, and producing recreational fisheries statistics.
- Regional and state partners identify data collection priorities, coordinate survey operations and on-site data collection, and participate in quality assurance and quality control procedures.
Our methods of data collection are:
- National in scope, but regionally specific, recognizing that unique regions have unique fisheries, fishing communities, and preferred methods of collecting information from anglers.
- Flexible enough to be updated, modified, expanded, or contracted to meet regional information needs.
- Robust enough to provide the most precise and least biased information possible.
- Inclusive and transparent, providing scientists, managers, and stakeholders with an opportunity to participate in their development and use.
In 2017, the Marine Recreational Information Program published a five-year strategic plan to formalize its longstanding approach toward improving recreational fisheries statistics and ensuring the needs of our data customers are met. This plan defines our vision, direction, and metrics for success. It also outlines the goals we are driving toward and the strategies and tactics we will undertake to achieve them. These goals are:
- 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 resource 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.
Each year, the Marine Recreational Information Program publishes an implementation plan that outlines the program’s annual priorities. These priorities are informed by the program’s strategic goals, as well as specific needs identified by its regional partners. The 2022 MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 15 pages) includes the following priorities:
- Completion of a new strategic plan. This collaborative process will build on the 2017-2022 MRIP Strategic Plan to define the goals, strategies, and tactics we will work toward over the next 5 years.
- Response to the Modern Fish Act. NOAA Fisheries will prepare a report to Congress detailing the program’s plans to address the recommendations of the National Academies’ 2021 report, Data and Management Strategies for Recreational Fisheries with Annual Catch Limits.
- Implementation of Recreational Fishing Survey and Data Standards. The program will host a Data User Seminar Series and develop a database for the documentation survey administrators must submit to meet the standards.
- Certification and transition planning for state and federal data collection programs. This includes the certification of new, modified, and existing survey designs, such as NOAA Fisheries’ For-Hire Survey and state surveys in California, Oregon, and Washington. This also includes the completion of a transition plan for four state programs in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Improvements to survey design, implementation, and administration. This includes research to evaluate alternative survey designs and potential sources of bias.
- Monitoring of impacts from COVID-19. At-sea sampling remains suspended in many states, and additional interruptions to data collection are possible. We will continue to work with our partners to monitor such interruptions and ensure the continuity of our estimates.
- Dialogue with partners, customers, and the recreational fishing community. This include developing up-to-date, easily digestible information about the program, its operations, and its improvements, hosting listening sessions with anglers and for-hire captains, and maintaining our engagement in angler education programs.
MRIP Implementation Plans
The 2008 MRIP Implementation Plan (PDF, 46 pages) was the first to be published. Annual implementation plan updates are listed below.
- 2021-2022 Update (PDF, 15 pages)
- 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)
The Marine Recreational Information Program’s eight Regional Implementation Teams are responsible for publishing Regional Implementation Plans that identify regional information needs and recommendations for programmatic improvements. Plans have been completed for all regions except Alaska, and include the following priorities.
Atlantic Coast Priorities (2017-2022)
- Produce more precise catch estimates.
- Develop a comprehensive for-hire data collection program.
- Produce more precise and more accurate discard data.
- Develop a supplemental biological sampling program.
- Improve the spatial resolution of and technical guidance for the post-stratification of estimates.
- Produce more timely catch estimates.
Gulf Coast Priorities (2016-2018)
- Provide full funding to support base-level general survey sampling.
- Provide funding to support LA Creel, Snapper Check, and Tails n’ Scales.
- Produce more timely catch estimates.
- Develop a regional, coordinated, supplemental biological sampling program.
- Establish a census-style for-hire logbook reporting program and provide funding to support compliance tracking, information validation, and the dockside and at-sea collection of biostatistical information.
- Improve discard data.
- Improve the spatial resolution of and technical guidance for the post-stratification of estimates.
Pacific Coast Priorities (2019-2021)
- Maintain and restore base level funding for sampling saltwater recreational anglers and for-hire operators.
- Implement and support enhanced electronic data collection.
- Increase on-board sampling.
- Investigate and maintain video effort counts.
- Stratify party charter sampling by trip type and sampling period for Southern California highly migratory fisheries.
- Provide improved access to the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) database.
- Calibrate historical catch estimates in Oregon and Washington.
U.S. Caribbean Priorities (2017)
- Develop a governance structure that will ensure consistent, accurate, and stable staff administration and data collection and management outcomes.
- Design and implement a saltwater recreational fishing data collection program for the U.S. Virgin Islands that is attuned to and functions within the unique character of that island group.
- Refine the existing saltwater recreational fishing data collection program in Puerto Rico to strengthen programmatic oversight and administration and ensure data are being collected from all fishing modes and for all species important to management.
Pacific Islands Priorities
- Conduct an expert technical review of the Territorial creel surveys.
- Complete the review process and secure MRIP certifications for the recommended regional survey designs.
- Provide full funding for the surveys that meet the minimum survey standards for Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Mariana Archipelago.
- Improve the timeliness of non-commercial catch estimates.
- Develop an algorithm that extracts the non-commercial component of the total creel survey catch estimates.
- Develop a mobile data entry system to support near-real time reporting.
Atlantic HMS Priorities
- Redesign the Large Pelagics Survey.
- Expand the Large Pelagics Survey.
- Include Atlantic HMS for-hire vessels in federal for-hire electronic logbook reporting programs.
- Reduce the reporting burden placed on anglers.
- Develop a method of integrating Atlantic HMS catch and effort data from multiple sources (e.g., the Large Pelagics Survey, Access Point Angler Intercept Survey, Fishing Effort Survey, and Greater Atlantic vessel trip reports).
- Evaluate the combination of catch card harvest reporting programs with tournament landings reporting programs, as well as the expansion of tournament landings reporting programs.
- Improve and expand data collection on recreational shark fisheries.
- Revise the HMS charter/headboat permit category.
- Evaluate opportunities to revise the Large Pelagics Biological Survey.
- Improve HMS recreational data collection in the U.S. Caribbean.
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).
The Marine Recreational Information Program is organized into teams. These teams allow state agencies, interstate marine fisheries commissions, regional fishery management councils, and other partners to inform the program’s priorities.
- The Executive Steering Committee sets the program’s priorities, monitors the program’s progress, and communicates the program’s resource needs to NOAA Fisheries.
- The Survey Operations Team oversees the administration of the program’s recreational fishing surveys and the management of the information these surveys produce.
- The Research and Evaluation Team oversees the evaluation of new and improved data collection and estimation methods.
- The Transition Team oversees the transition to new and improved data collection and estimation methods.
- Eight Regional Implementation Teams (Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, Alaska, Pacific Islands, U.S. Caribbean, and Atlantic Highly Migratory Species) identify regional data needs and recommend programmatic improvements.
- The Communications and Education Team builds understanding, awareness, and support for the program among its partners, customers, and stakeholders.
Each MRIP Team Lead serves on the Program Management Team.
In 2018, the Marine Recreational Information Program published Survey Design and Statistical Methods for Estimation of Recreational Fisheries Catch and Effort. This document describes the technical details of the surveys designed and administered by the program, as well as the methods the program uses to produce estimates of total recreational catch. It includes information about current and legacy survey designs, anticipated survey improvements, and the calibration methodologies that have allowed us to preserve the integrity of our long-term time series of recreational catch statistics while implementing changes to survey designs.
In 2020, the Marine Recreational Information Program established Survey and Data Standards to promote data quality, consistency, and comparability across the program’s recreational fishing surveys, thereby facilitating the shared use of the statistics these surveys produce. The standards reflect best practices currently in place at the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, and other federal agencies, as well as statistical survey standards and guidelines published by the Office of Management and Budget. Ultimately, the standards will further ensure the integrity of our data collection efforts, the quality of our recreational fisheries statistics, and the strength of science-based management decisions.
There are several ways to access the data collected by the Marine Recreational Information Program, as well as the recreational fisheries statistics the program produces. You can:
- Download general data, general estimates, or large pelagics data and estimates.
- Download statistical analysis programs to run custom domain analyses.
- Use the MRIP Query Tool to filter catch, effort, and fish length data by time series, geographic area, species, mode, and other characteristics.
- Submit custom data requests.
- Receive email notifications of updates to MRIP data, estimates, and queries.
The program also maintains an online database of saltwater fishing access sites that serves as the sample frame for our shoreside survey of recreational anglers.
The Marine Recreational Information Program funds and conducts research to improve recreational fishing data collection across the United States. This allows the program and its partners to keep pace with emerging science and information needs while producing the high-quality data that support science and management. Select projects related to statistical precision, electronic reporting technologies, and other topics of interest are highlighted on the MRIP Research page. All of the projects the program has funded since 2008 are listed in the MRIP Projects Database.
The Marine Recreational Information Program follows a continuous process of improvement, which consists of three key steps:
- Evaluate methods. To ensure our program is using the best available science, teams of partners and stakeholders—including scientists, statisticians, state agencies, and individual anglers—evaluate our existing methods and recommend new or improved survey designs.
- Develop and test methods. Recommendations for new or improved survey designs are tested, peer-reviewed, approved, and certified prior to implementation.
- Implement methods. Putting new or improved survey designs in place requires careful planning to balance the allocation of limited resources in support of national and regional data needs. We work with our regional partners to evaluate these regional needs and weigh potential tradeoffs between precision, timeliness, coverage, and other survey characteristics. We also ensure the methods that are implemented meet our survey standards and best practices.
The Marine Recreational Information Program has participated in several independent programmatic reviews. In all cases, we have used the resulting recommendations to improve how we collect, analyze, and report recreational fishing data. These reviews include:
- Review of Recreational Fisheries Survey Methods (2006) (National Research Council). In response to this review and in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, NOAA Fisheries replaced its Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey with the Marine Recreational Information Program and established a National Saltwater Angler Registry.
- Recreational Fisheries Management: The National Marine Fisheries Service Should Develop a Comprehensive Strategy to Guide Its Data Collection Efforts (2015) (U.S. Government Accountability Office). In response to this review, the Marine Recreational Information Program adopted a five-year strategic plan.
- Review of the Marine Recreational Information Program (2017) (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine). In 2017, the program established a framework (PDF, 11 pages) for addressing the 28 recommendations within this report. In accordance with the Modern Fish Act, the agency submitted a report to Congress detailing its progress toward these recommendations.
- Data and Management Strategies for Recreational Fisheries with Annual Catch Limits (2021) (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine). In accordance with the Modern Fish Act, the agency will submit a report to Congress detailing its response to the recommendations within this report.
The Marine Recreational Information Program works through its Communications and Education Team to build understanding of, confidence in, and support for our recreational fishing surveys and data products. In collaboration with our state and regional partners, we have developed a broad catalog of outreach and educational materials that explain how data are collected, how estimates are produced, and how these estimates support science and management.