Making Improvements 

MRIP is continuously working to improve how we collect, analyze, and report information. Through improvements to current methods and the development of new methods, MRIP supports the monitoring tools needed to accurately track fishing catch and effort in each region. The process used to develop and implement improvements, outlined below, ensures that each recommended change adheres to rigorous national standards, while remaining flexible enough to meet unique regional needs. This is a continuous process and MRIP is working with its partners to ensure the highest quality data for use in fisheries management.

As results of pilot studies emerge, the MRIP Regional Implementation Teams (the Fisheries Information Networks (FINs) and their equivalents) review and select the methods best suited to their fisheries and other needs. The Regional Management Teams will continue to evaluate the possibilities of broadening the application of those methods, consistent with available funding, to attempt to improve coverage and/or bring more resolution to spatial and temporal monitoring.

The Improvement Process

Evaluating Methods

Current methods, even those that have been implemented, can benefit from improvements to make sure that in a changing management environment, the best available science is used. Teams of scientists, statisticians, state partners, fishermen, and other stakeholders evaluate existing programs, making recommendations for new data collection designs and improvements to current designs.

Developing and Testing Improved Methods

Recommendations for new methods and improvements to current methods are tested and peer-reviewed through the MRIP process to ensure the results meet the highest possible scientific standards. Methods are approved by MRIP, before they are approved for implementation by the Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.

Implementing Improved Methods

Implementation of new and improved methods requires careful planning and difficult decisions on how to commit limited resources. MRIP works closely with regional partners to evaluate regional fisheries needs and examine tradeoffs among precision, timeliness, coverage, and more. Further, certain types of data collection options (e.g., for-hire trip reporting of catch and effort or a census of private boat landings of a species) require regulatory and enforcement components for implementation that must be considered. MRIP's role in the implementation of improved methods is to ensure that the result balances regional data collection needs and overall data quality for managing the Nation's fisheries.

C:\fakepath\pdficon_small.pngMRIP Regional Implementation Workshop Report

C:\fakepath\pdficon_small.pngMRIP Implementation Process 

Recent Improvements

To ensure our overall estimates are as accurate as possible, data used in each step of the process  has to be accurate as well. Recent milestones we have achieved to improve our survey and estimation methods include:

  • Re-estimation of historical catch estimates - One of the first things we did was to improve our catch survey method. When the NRC conducted its review, they found that the old sampling method for estimating catch was not correctly matched with the catch survey design. With the new design, we removed potential bias by properly weighting past survey data. By addressing this fundamental challenge, MRIP was able to re-estimate historical catch estimates to be more accurate and precise. 
  • New angler intercept survey protocols - Among the most visible of these initiatives was the 2013 implementation of the new Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) – the “dockside” catch surveys we conduct at the end of fishing trips to measure recreational catch on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The new protocols remove sources of potential bias from our sampling process, which addresses one of the chief concerns raised by the National Research Council in its 2006 review of our survey methods.
  • Online Site Register - Key to the process of using our new survey protocols was the development of an online, searchable Site Register of publicly-accessible recreational fishing access points from Maine to Louisiana. Developed collaboratively with our state partners, the Site Register is a tool to manage the numerous interconnected details required to select an efficient and statistically sound sample. The register is continuously updated using information from field staff, our state partners, and public users.

  • Improved effort surveys - In 2015, MRIP launched a new method for estimating the number of trips taken by recreational fishermen. The new survey method moves away from household telephone surveys, which are becoming less effective as fewer homes use landline phones. In addition, the new survey uses license and registration information provided by anglers through the National Saltwater Angler Registry.
  • Expanded regional efforts - Recognizing that the management needs from region to region, and even from fishery to fishery, can vary dramatically, MRIP is testing survey design improvements that have been developed based on previous studies in the Pacific Coast, Western Pacific, and Caribbean.  


To promote nationwide consistency in availability of recreational catch and effort data, MRIP has established a rigorous certification process for assuring that survey and estimation methods are scientifically sound. Once certified, the method is available for potential funding and use by MRIP partners.

In general, MRIP only supports (funding, staff, etc.) projects applying methods that have been MRIP certified. MRIP may support use of methods that are not certified, if a plan to certify those survey methods is in place and is being followed.

What does MRIP certify:

  • New or replacement survey and estimation methods
  • Modifications, or recommended improvements to existing methods
  • Existing methods, for approval only

To be certified, methods must:

Certified Methods

MRIP follows the requirements of the Information Quality Act (Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554)) which ensures the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of disseminated information.