Editor’s Log: NJ Angler Survey - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: NJ Angler Survey

So what about us?

NOAA Fisheries recently announced that a collaborative team of state, regional, and federal partners have developed a multi-year Transition Plan to support the use of Gulf state recreational fishing data in the federal stock assessment and management process.  According to the NOAA press release, this Transition Plan is “an essential step in ensuring all of the information recreational anglers submit to Texas’ Coastal Creel Survey, Louisiana’s LA Creel, Mississippi’s Tails n’ Scales, Alabama’s Snapper Check, and Florida’s State Reef Fish Survey is available to inform NOAA Fisheries’ work.”

“Ultimately, the plan will ensure scientists and managers follow a coordinated and consistent approach in the use of state fisheries statistics, providing NOAA Fisheries with a more complete picture of recreational fishing activity in the Gulf of Mexico,” NOAA stated in the release, explaining how the plan for Gulf State Recreational Fishing Surveys was developed by a Gulf of Mexico Subgroup of the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Transition Team, which includes representatives from NOAA Fisheries, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the five Gulf states.

It should be noted that that our regional equivalent to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission respectively is the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  And while our recreational fishing community here along the Mid-Atlantic coast has probably been the most vocally critical of MRIP and the former MRFSS and the impacts those random harvest surveys have had on black sea bass and summer flounder access over the years, the legislative support on Capitol Hill by Gulf state politicians and the institutional bias towards southern fishing states leaves us with our bait in our hands.

Short of electing members of Congress who care about our coastal resources and recreational fishing interests, we could also support recreational data collection to help provide the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife (Division) with some of the tools needed to put a similar “transition plan” in place locally.  For example, the Division’s Bureau of Marine Fisheries (BMF) utilizes the Recreational Saltwater Volunteer Angler Survey to collect information on recreationally important marine finfish species.

According to the BMF, “current data collection efforts for recreational fisheries are hindered by sampling only a small portion of the fishing public and from collecting minimal data on released fish.”  Thus the intent of the Recreational Saltwater Volunteer Angler Survey is to collect data that may support alternative management strategies that increase fishing opportunities for the public.

“The focus of this voluntary survey is to collect information on catch and effort from recreational fishing trips in marine and estuarine waters of the state and surrounding areas,” BMF states online, adding “For catch information, BMF staff are interested in collecting information on the number and size of both kept and released species and should not be used only for successful trips. Trips with zero catch are important to report also.”

Anglers have several options for reporting their catch in New Jersey marine waters, all of which are available online:

Platform optimized for desktop computers and laptops

Platform optimized for mobile devices

Revised printable form that can be mailed or emailed

“Information collected through this voluntary survey will provide data that may support alternative management strategies that increase fishing opportunities for the public,” the Division and its BMF stated.

So we can all help provide better state data collection to compete with the Floridians for more attention to our coastal fisheries issues from NOAA Fisheries, or we can hope that all 435 members of the House of Representatives in next week’s election all are recreational fishing enthusiasts.

Yeah, take the survey.

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