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Provide Scientifically Sound and Trusted Social, Cultural, Economic, and Ecological Information

The basis of effective natural resource management is sound scientific information. NOAA and its management partners have developed some of the world’s most comprehensive and sophisticated recreational fisheries data collection and analysis systems. However, good science is not enough; for the public to have confidence in management there must be confidence in the underlying science. NOAA Fisheries will continue improving the science that underpins management decisions, while working to improve public understanding and confidence. Actions supporting this guiding principle include:

Provide recreational catch and effort information supporting stock assessments and informing management.

  • Initiate a National Research Council review of the Marine Recreational Information Program to evaluate current recreational fisheries catch and effort data and science.
  • Execute directed projects to improve recreational catch and effort data for pulse and other rare event fisheries, specifically including Gulf of Mexico red snapper and Atlantic highly migratory species (Large Pelagic Survey).
  • Transition to the use of new mail-based recreational fishing effort surveys on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, including incorporation of new data into stock assessments.
  • Identify key areas for habitat mapping to foster improved characterization and assessment of recreational fish habitats.
  • Conduct research to evaluate the benefits of natural habitat conservation projects to the health of the ecosystem and their importance to recreationally important fish species.

Bolster understanding of the social and economic importance of recreational fishing.

  • Incorporate recreational fisheries as a science priority in Agency and regional science center strategic plans.
  • Develop a national strategic plan to guide socio-economic research on recreational fisheries.
  • Annually evaluate the status and progress of recreational fishing expenditure, impact, and valuation data collections and assessments for each region through the Recreational Fishing Economic Assessment Index (RFEAI), an internal performance metric.
  • Execute a fishing trip expenditure survey in all coastal states to refine understanding of socio-economic impacts of saltwater recreational fishing.

Empower others to collect, share, and use data.

  • Convene recreational fishing groups, states, NGOs, and others to explore potential additional uses of information provided by NOAA observing platforms (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System Update), which may benefit anglers and provide other benefits.
  • Engage recreational fishermen in data collection to benefit protected resources recovery and conservation, including: establishing citizen science programs to apply tags and/or report tagged protected species, DNA swabs for stock ID, and photo ID of marine mammals and sea turtles.
  • Work with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to consider recreational fisheries management issues in science needs assessments for the National Marine Sanctuary System.
  • Assess the utility of angler reported electronic data as a supplement to existing data collections.
  • Promote improved recreational fisheries data collection and reporting for shared resources within international management bodies, and enhance management of such fisheries where needed.
  • Identify avenues to engage recreational fishermen in habitat research, such as through community monitoring groups or cooperative research on habitat issues such as limitations to recreational fish productivity.

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