Logo graphic for the Coastal Resources Division
Marine Recreational Information Survey (MRIP)

Surveying Marine Recreational Finfish Anglers in Georgia

Since March of 2000, biologists with the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (CRD GADNR) have been working in conjunction with the federal NOAA Fisheries to conduct marine recreational fisheries surveys of coastal Georgia anglers.  These surveys produce estimates of marine recreational finfish catch (including fish released as well as those retained as harvest).  They also estimate numbers of recreational saltwater anglers (participation) and numbers of fishing trips (effort). Every 2-3 years, socio-economic questions are included to estimate economic impact of marine recreational fishing in coastal Georgia.   Combined, these data are necessary for determining appropriate regulations (e.g., size and bag limits, etc.), provide catch data for fishery management plans, and track trends in angler participation and landings. 
What are the main components of the marine recreational fisheries surveys?
Data from three separate surveys are combined to produce estimates of catch, effort and participation:
·         Access Point Angler Intercept Survey: Saltwater anglers returning from a fishing trip may be asked to participate in a dockside intercept survey.  The interview, which takes only a few minutes to complete, consists of two major sections:
1)      A background portion addresses fishing mode (private boat, shore, or charter boat), gear type, number of anglers, hours spent fishing, general area fished (inshore vs. offshore), whether they were targeting specific fish species, and the angler’s county and state of residence.
2)      The latter portion of the interview focuses on finfish catch.  We ask questions pertaining both to the species and number of fish released as well as those fish that were kept. For fish that were released, we collect information on whether they were used for bait, or released alive or dead.  We also ask to measure and weigh fish retained by the anglers. The intercept surveys are conducted by GADNR CRD personnel at fishing access points within the six coastal counties of Georgia.
·         Coastal Household Telephone Survey: Households located in the coastal region are contacted by telephone (where “coastal region” represents those counties within 25 or 50 miles of the coastline, with the region determined by time of year).  If one or more of the household’s residents have participated in saltwater fishing during the preceding two months, they are asked to participate in a telephone survey in which they are asked a series of questions. These questions are designed to determine the number of saltwater angling trips taken by each angler in the household during a designated period of time.  From these telephone interviews, an estimate of the participation (number of anglers) and effort (number of trips) of those fishing from private boats and/or shore (e.g., pier, dock, etc.) is calculated.  This telephone survey is performed by a federally contracted survey company equipped with computerized telephone services.
·         For-Hire Telephone Survey: Since anglers on charter fishing trips often are not from coastal counties, a different survey is used to specifically determine participation and effort in the charter sector. Every week, 10% of the active charter industry is selected to participate in a telephone survey. Captains report number of fishing trips, number of anglers/trip, general area fished, and whether any finfish species were specifically targeted. From these telephone interviews, an estimate of the participation (number of anglers) and effort (number of trips) of those fishing from charter boats is calculated. This telephone survey is conducted by a GADNR CRD staff member.
Do I have to participate in these surveys? 
Participation in all surveys is voluntary, however we rely heavily on cooperation with the recreational angling and charter fishing communities.  High levels of participation in these surveys result in more precise and accurate catch and participation estimates necessary for sound fishery management principles and conservation at both the state and federal level.
Where and when do these intercept interviews take place?
Since private boat anglers harvest most of Georgia's regulated marine sportfish, we conduct approximately 50% of our annual 1,500 interviews at those fishing access sites utilized by the private boat angler (i.e., boat ramps and marinas) in order to intercept a larger proportion of anglers and their catch.  The remaining 50% of our interviews are split between anglers who are returning from a charter fishing trip and those who are fishing from the shore (i.e., pier, dock, creek bank).  Our survey personnel conduct interviews on weekdays and weekends from March through December at access sites throughout coastal Georgia. Estimates of marine recreational fishing in Georgia during January and February, when saltwater fishing activity is very limited, are not generated.
How does the GADNR use these data?
The surveys supply detailed catch, release and harvest summaries, fish length and creel (catch per angler) data, as well as angler demographic information.  These data are not only essential for monitoring recreational fishing pressure and assessing the impact of current regulations, but are crucial for determining changes from historical data as well.  Additionally, the fish length and creel data can be correlated with age/length and reproductive data necessary to conduct stock assessments and ensure sound management decisions for Georgia's sportfish populations.  A pdf of the survey forms can be found at the bottom of this page.

Click image below to download the pdf document “Understanding Fisheries Management: A Manual for understanding the Federal Fisheries Management Process, Including Analysis of the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act.” This publication describes the stock assessment process (including types of data necessary), federal legislation and the resulting regulatory process required when implementing fishery management plans.

What were the results from the survey?
Catch, effort and participation data from Georgia, or other Atlantic and Gulf States, are available on the NOAA Fisheries website www.st.nmfs.gov/st1/recreational/index.html . There you will find a more detailed explanation of the survey protocols, gain access to data summaries, or conduct specific queries of the recreational data.  For additional information concerning the GADNR’s participation, email the Fisheries Dependent Unit, Coastal Resources Division (Brunswick, GA) via kathy.knowlton@dnr.ga.gov
How do I learn more about recreational fisheries data collection?
Initiated in 2007, the federal Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, is the new way NOAA Fisheries is collecting marine recreational fishing data to produce catch and effort estimates. It replaces the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey, or MRFSS, in place since the 1970s. For more information on MRIP, visit the NOAA Fisheries website https:http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/recreational-fisheries/index