From: ASMFC (April 30 – May 3, 2018) Meeting Summaries, Press Releases and Motions on page 23:
The FES replaces the coastal household telephone survey and provides a more accurate estimates of fishing effort. As part of the transition to FES side-by--side benchmarking occurred where it was found:
(1) estimates from the FES are several times higher than those from the CHTS; and
(2) on average, the private boat estimates were almost three times higher, and in the shore mode, they were about five times higher.
This varied by mode, state, and wave, so in some cases they were higher, and in others they were lower.
More effort....more fishermen fishing?
From the NATIONAL ACADEMY of SCIENCE: Review of the Marine Recreational Information Program (2017):
Conclusion: The methodologies associated with the current Fishing Effort Survey, including the address-based sampling mail survey design, are major improvements over the original Coastal Household Telephone Survey that employed random-digit dialing to contact anglers. This is a reflection of an immense amount of effort on the parts of the NMFS staff, contractors, and consultants.
For those fishermen who have been around this topic for awhile, how many times have we heard "major improvement" or "it is getting better" over the last decade?
After glossing over this document, you can sense that this has come down to an academic exercise as any shift from direct dockside intercepts to either a mail or phone survey has a highly questionable component, and one that is at the crux in improving effort and harvest estimates....
"Can the angler being interviewed and provide information over the phone or through a mail survey a week or more from the time of the fishing trip, be as accurate as that directly taken at the time they come in from a fishing trip and catch (if fish were retained) verified by a data collection agent from APAIS (Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS), which gathers information via interviews at shore or boat access points)?
Read more how the N.A.S. review somehow gave the MRIP program "a passing grade" just a year ago: New report finds significant improvements in methods to collect data on recreational fishing
It does boggle ones mind along with pushing the limits of candor and credibility on the statement of this being a "major improvement." The implication for fishermen as noted within the new program is that effort is greater than once believed by those who manipulating their computer models to calculate harvest estimates.
Over the last two years I have also pointed out about implementing state pilot program using electronic collection via smartphone and/or online recreational reporting to provide another independent data stream. This is not a new concept. and has already been in use on a limited basis in other states to help assist in the collection of effort and harvest data right after a fishing trip. Here a interesting conclusion noted in a scholarly researched document from two years ago; Assessing the Utility of a Smartphone App for Recreational Fishery Catch Data
Self-reporting programs often suffer from biases concerning angler avidity, drop-off, and lack of angler representativeness but have the ability to provide data where traditional methods cannot.
Reporting biases...... yes, and the primary issue when asking any fishermen what they may or may not have caught during the fishing trip unless someone is there on scene to verify the statement and see what was harvested. I have personally heard this from one Gordon Colvin (yes the one and only as well as the former Director at the NYS DEC) on how the MRIP program was making great strides in lessening reporting bias and improving the confidence in their data.
Going forward at this time in 2018 with NOAA Fisheries going Titanic-speed ahead with these bullet pointed changes:
I will leave you with these few thoughts....
1) How much will the re-calibration change the previous reported FINAL estimates?
2) What does this say since the transition from MURFFS to MRIKP and the constant talking point of improving estimates?
3) How can fishing effort be higher in both the private vessel and shore mode when for-hire effort has drastically decreased in both the MAFMC and NEFMC management areas?
4) Why do we consistently see MRIP "data follies" right until the end of December 2017 when we are, and have been specifically told that quality assurance (reliability) on the estimates is the best it has ever been?
5) What will be the end result once the re-calibrated numbers are released, and the impact on specifications from 2019 and beyond?
In closing I like to remind you of the conclusions within The Social and Economic Impacts of Hurricane/Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy on the Commercial and Recreational Fishing Industries: New York and New Jersey One Year Later report (note: I did not post the link since it continues to show - The application you are trying to access is currently unavailable due to site maintenance) which was conducted by the US Department of Commerce.
Essentially a number of economic metrics in the regional fishing industry were compared from prior and post 'Super Storm Sandy' and most notable was that private vessel registrations along with fuel and bait sales were down. From what we currently see at this point in time, this trend continues with fuel and bait sales being down, thus one can surmise/infer/conclude that this correlates with fishermen fishing less, not only this year, but in the last few fishing seasons. But it seems those who are giving us a update on the Marine Recreational Information Program’s (MRIP) transition to the Fishing Effort Survey (FES), undoubtedly have different conclusions than what those who are fishing day in, out and throughout the fishing year continue to point out when this very topic comes up.