New Data May Change Saltwater Fishing Rules

New Data May Change Saltwater Fishing Rules
New Data May Change Saltwater Fishing Rules

Saltwater fishing regulations may change as NOAA has begun to use an improved method to estimate the amount of fish caught by saltwater anglers.

The method is part of an overall effort to improve the accuracy of recreational catch data collected by the Marine Recreational Information Program, and was developed by a team of NOAA scientists and outside experts.

?The new estimation method is a fundamental change that better reflects what is happening on the water and within the recreational fishing community,? said Eric Schwaab, NOAA?s acting assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management. ?Better, more accurate estimates can only be a plus for the saltwater recreational fishing industry, which provides jobs for many Americans and contributes to the economic vitality of our coastal communities.?

The agency released recalculated estimates going back to 2004 using the new method and found no overall trends in terms of size or direction of the new estimates. Some catch estimates for some species go up, while others go down or stay about the same.

?The recreational fishing community has a shared interest in scientifically sound, accurate data and a shared responsibility in making it available,? said Bruce Freeman, a New Jersey recreational fisherman, scientist and member of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association. ?With this new estimation method, NOAA is taking an important first step toward the high-quality catch data that many of us have been calling for.?

Using these new estimates, NOAA will now work with the regional fishery management councils, the states, and other stakeholders to integrate these results into fisheries science and management.

Another important part of the Marine Recreational Information Program is the National Saltwater Angler Registry, which will help NOAA improve the accuracy of fishing effort estimates by increasing the proportion of fishing households that are surveyed. Additional improvements that will increase the accuracy of the estimates are being developed, including revised dockside survey methods, testing of approaches to improving data timeliness, and use of electronic logbooks in the for-hire vessel sector.

For more on the recreational fishing industry, click here.

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