Expert Report

Review of the Marine Recreational Information Program (2017)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Recreational fishing is a popular activity in the United States. Although individual anglers generally take small numbers of fish, collectively, the large number of anglers can have a substantial impact on fish populations. For some species, the impact of recreational catch even exceeds the amount taken by the commercial sector. To collect information on fishing catch, the National Marine Fisheries Service started a survey program in 1979, called the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS), which was reviewed in a National Academies report in 2006. For the past decade, National Marine Fisheries Service has been responding to the recommendations in that report with a redesigned program, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP).

This review of the MRIP concludes that impressive progress has been made in providing more reliable catch data to fishery managers. Major improvements to the statistical soundness of the survey designs were achieved by reducing sources of bias and increasing sampling efficiency as well as through increased coordination with partners and engagement of expert consultants. MRIP also made significant advances in improving its communications and outreach strategy, particularly with its new website and communication with some of its data-collection partners. Some additional challenges remain for the survey program, including those associated with nonresponse, use of electronic data collection, and communication and outreach to the angling community.

Watch the webinar that accompanied the release of the report here.