Please select your home edition
FBW submit news (top)

Exploring electronic reporting for recreational fishing data

by NOAA Fisheries 1 Aug 14:22 UTC
Exploring electronic reporting for recreational fishing data © Tim Donovan / Florida FWC

This month, NOAA Fisheries submitted a report to Congress (PDF, 19 pages) describing the Marine Recreational Information Program's (MRIP) efforts to explore the suitability of electronic reporting as a method of collecting data from saltwater anglers.

Electronic reporting is a method of data collection that can include smartphones, tablets, and other technologies used to record, send, and store data. In some cases, electronic reporting allows samplers to use tablets instead of paper and pencil to record and submit data collected in the field. In others, electronic reporting allows anglers to record and submit data through a website or mobile device.

Electronic reporting has the potential to reduce data collection costs and improve the quality of reported information, and several states—including Alabama and Mississippi—have adopted mandatory or voluntary angler reporting apps. But the challenges associated with using these technologies to collect data from private anglers—especially when anglers are asked to voluntarily report their data through a website or mobile app—have the potential to bias resulting estimates.

Opt-in angler reporting programs have experienced low recruitment and retention rates, as well as a tendency for more avid angler to participate. To correct for these and other potential biases, independently conducted shoreside sampling must be used to confirm or correct missing or misfiled angler electronic reports. Shoreside validation is crucial, but adds cost and time to the process of collecting data and producing catch estimates. More research will help us understand how angler-submitted electronic data can best supplement the data the MRIP partnership collects through other means.

While the general surveys that measure the number of trips anglers take and the number of fish they catch are conducted through in-person, telephone, and mail surveys, advancing electronic reporting has been a long-standing focus of NOAA Fisheries and MRIP.

  • In 2012, NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council cosponsored a workshop that examined existing volunteer electronic angler reporting programs and discussed the criteria that would need to be met for similar programs to be used to collect data under MRIP.

  • In 2013, NOAA Fisheries adopted a policy to encourage the consideration of electronic technologies to complement or improve fishery-dependent data collection programs. Since 2013, MRIP has supported more than a dozen studies related to electronic reporting.

  • In 2016, MRIP published a statement affirming its commitment to develop sound electronic reporting tools and outlining its priorities to expand the use of electronic reporting. These include exploring the utility of angler reporting apps, determining how electronic technologies can support data collection by samplers in the field, and completing and certifying logbook-based electronic trip reporting in the for-hire sector.

  • In 2018, NOAA Fisheries certified the designs of two supplemental surveys in the Gulf of Mexico that use electronic technologies to collect data from private anglers, paired with shoreside sampling to account for under- or misreporting.

  • In 2019, catch survey samplers on the Atlantic coast began to use tablets to record and send angler intercept data. Initial reports indicate the time between an intercept and a data submission has significantly dropped, and staff are saving time processing, checking, and correcting data.
Advancing Electronic Reporting: The MRIP Action Plan

In 2018, MRIP adopted a four-part action plan to advance the use of electronic reporting.

Action: Evaluate the inclusion of an online reporting option for the mail Fishing Effort Survey

In 2018, MRIP initiated a pilot study of an online reporting option for the Fishing Effort Survey (FES). A "push to web" design that encourages participants to respond to the FES through a computer or mobile device is being tested in Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Florida. If, after two reminders, a participant fails to complete the online survey, a paper survey will be provided that can be completed and returned by mail.

By providing a paper survey as a last resort, this mixed-mode design may benefit from the advantages of electronic reporting—like timely data submission, built-in logic checks, and reduced costs—while reducing the potential bias that can arise when respondents are willing to respond to a survey by mail but unlikely or unwilling to respond to the same survey online.

Action: Advance electronic reporting in the for-hire sector

In 2015, MRIP published Developing For-Hire Electronic Logbooks: The MRIP Road Map, which outlines the tasks that will guide our work toward developing and certifying census-based electronic reporting survey designs. The Road Map was updated this year.

In 2019, MRIP supported a national workshop to develop a clear and direct process for making certified census-based for-hire electronic reporting survey designs available to regional partners for implementation.

Action: Assess the current status and future potential of electronic reporting options for private anglers

In 2019, MRIP will complete an assessment of the challenges and opportunities associated with using electronic technologies to collect data from private anglers. The results will serve as guidance for our future efforts in this area. This assessment will be based on three MRIP-supported studies:

It will also be informed by a fourth study: Estimation of a Total from a Population of Unknown Size and Application to Estimating Recreational Red Snapper Catch in Texas.

Action: Strengthen stakeholder engagement

The MRIP Communications and Education Team has incorporated information about the partnership's work to explore and advance electronic reporting into a new brochure, presentations to partners and stakeholders, and other print, digital, and in-person communications.

Related Articles

Seafood and Human Health webinar
The science behind increasing consumption sustainably This September, the Seafood Nutrition Partnership will hold its annual State of the Science symposium on the latest in seafood dietary and nutritional studies and the social-economic implications for public health. Posted on 27 Sep
Sea Grant announces funds for research projects
The funded projects focus on three areas of need identified by Sea Grant Sea Grant announces $16 million in federal funding awards to support 42 research projects and collaborative programs aimed at advancing sustainable aquaculture in the United States. Posted on 26 Sep
New Sea Grant funding to American lobster industry
Funding for research aimed at understanding physical and chemical changes affecting American lobster Sea Grant announced new funding today for research aimed at understanding physical and chemical changes affecting American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the Gulf of Maine as well as a regional lobster extension program. Posted on 15 Sep
NOAA Fisheries to work with Maine lobster industry
Regional measures to reduce the risk of right whale serious injuries and deaths NOAA Fisheries is disappointed that the Maine Lobstermen's Association announced it is backing away from its commitment to regional measures to reduce the risk of right whale serious injuries and deaths. Posted on 12 Sep
Bottomfishes not as healthy as previously thought
Scientists assessed the stocks of bottomfish in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Stock assessment results differed among the regions. For the CNMI, the stock was healthy (not overfished and not experiencing overfishing). For Guam and American Samoa, the stocks were less healthy. Posted on 5 Sep
Detecting fish from ocean-going robots
Unmanned wind-powered vehicles go farther for longer to expand our knowledge of the ocean The ocean is vast, and fish swim. These are challenges for scientists who need to find out when, where, and how many, fish are found in Alaska's marine waters. Posted on 31 Aug
An early notification from fisherman saved a life
NOAA Fisheries received information that was vital to finding a hooked Hawaiian monk seal Early on Saturday, July 27th, the Hawaii Marine Animal Rescue received a call about a hooked monk seal. A fisherman was reeling in his line when he realized there was an endangered Hawaiian monk seal at the end of it. Posted on 10 Aug
Top 10 facts about sharks and seals
Seals and sharks in Cape Cod waters have some things in common, but other facts may surprise you. There are two similar species of seals that inhabit the Cape and Islands - gray and harbor seals. Adult gray seals can weigh between 550 and 850 pounds and are on the Cape year-round. Posted on 10 Aug
Partnership of fishery managers helps anglers
NOAA Fisheries, ASMFC and Atlantic state agencies partner to make circle hooks No one likes to see a fish float away or sink to the bottom dead. That's why NOAA Fisheries Recreational Fishing Initiative, the ASMFC, and the Atlantic states are working together to help more fish survive when released by recreational anglers. Posted on 9 Aug
Report shows status of federally managed fisheries
Release of the annual report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries The Status of Stocks Report measures the progress the nation has made in ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks. It provides a "snapshot in time" of the status of our nation's fisheries last year, and there is good news to share. Posted on 8 Aug
FBW submit news (top)