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Monday, April 02, 2012

The Science of Making Anglers’ Catch Count

By gathering data like how often anglers catch fish, what species and size of fish, and what happens to each fish after it is caught, the most accurate, up-to-date information can be provided to fishery managers and decision makers. They can then use this catch data to make decisions and recommendations about fishing regulations and the health of the fish populations.

In 2006, NOAA Fisheries began a new way that they use to make these estimates. It's the Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, which helps them do a better job of counting the recreational catch and providing new ways to ensure that their catch counts.

One goal of the MRIP's is to provide information in a form and schedule that helps those people who rely on the data. Estimates can now be more accurate since they take into account other factors like possible differences in catch rates at high pressure and low pressure fishing sites, or the amount of fishing that takes place during different parts of the day. In statistics, these variables are called potential biases and can change the actual numbers if they’re not fully considered.

The MRIP has fundamentally changed the way NOAA counts and reports what saltwater recreational anglers catch and how many trips they take.  NOAA has launched many changes, including the National Saltwater Angler registry, which is the new way they use to estimate fishing activity.

Accurate estimates of angler catch is important for fishermen, managers, and scientists. By having the most up-to-date information, we can hope that NOAA Fisheries and others will make the most informed decisions about the health of our oceans and the future of sustainable recreational fishing.

To learn more on the Marine Recreational Information Program and how NOAA is counting your fish catch visit: www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov

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