COVID's Toll On Fishing Less Than Expected - The Fisherman

COVID’s Toll On Fishing Less Than Expected

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on fisheries management plans, recreational harvest limits and regulations will be a lot less damaging to the recreational fishing sector than originally anticipated.

Final 2020 recreational catch and effort data estimates were released by the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week. Data from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) are now available for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey,” the NOAA stated in a press advisory last week, “its overall impact on recreational fishing data collection was lower than first expected, and NOAA Fisheries was able to fill gaps in 2020 catch data with data collected in 2018 and 2019.”

The NOAA’s use of imputed data, also known as proxy or replacement data, match the time, place and fishing mode combinations that would have been sampled had the survey continued uninterrupted. Imputed data were combined with observed data to produce catch estimates using standard estimation methodology.

“The use of imputed catch data had minimal impact on the agency’s effort estimates,” the NOAA stated, “as the mail and telephone surveys that collect effort data continued largely uninterrupted.”