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Statement on NAS Study on Data and Management in Recreational Fisheries

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Washington, D.C. – The following statement was issued by Meredith Moore, Director of the Fish Conservation Program at Ocean Conservancy, in response to the prepublicaton release of a study by the National Academy of Sciences titled “Data and Management Strategies for Recreational Fisheries with Annual Catch Limits”:

“The comprehensive study by the renowned National Academy of Sciences reaffirms the importance of the existing federal survey program and offers important recommendations to enhance the delivery of high quality, timely data to more effectively manage recreational fishing at sustainable levels in our federal waters.  

“Recreational fishing is responsible for a significant proportion of landings in many of our federal fisheries and has a substantial impact on fish stocks and ocean ecosystems. The NAS study confirms the need for a firmer grasp on the volume of recreational anglers and their catch, and recognizes the need for increased cooperation between the states and federal government in the development, implementation and calibration of supplementary surveys. The study also recommends exploring the use of new tools, such as tags and angler registries to better understand pressure on fish stocks from recreational fishing. We welcome the study’s conclusion that increasing the use of mandatory electronic catch reporting tools in recreational fisheries could help ensure sustainable fishing levels into the future. 

“Sustainable fishery management using science-based annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures will benefit from the improvements to fishery data as outlined by this study. The recommendations for data improvements are particularly important now, as climate change continues to have profound impacts on our oceans, fish, and fishing communities.” 

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Meredith Moore is available for interviews on request.

Notes to the Editor:

  • The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the primary law that governs how fish are managed in federal waters (typically between 3 and 200 nautical miles offshore). The MSA requires that managers restrict catch below science-based annual catch limits that are set at levels to prevent overfishing of the resource each year.
  • In 2018, Congress passed the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018, (the Modern Fish Act) which focused on recreational fishing and addressing existing challenges in recreational data collection and management. The legislation directed the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to help improve accuracy and timeliness of data for management of recreational fisheries with annual catch limits. The study was meant to explore how NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, can best meet management needs consistent with the core conservation standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our nation’s landmark fishery management law.
  • The Modern Fish Act is focused on recreational fishing and addressing existing challenges in recreational data collection and management. It contains strong language that ensures the core conservation standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), our nation’s landmark fisheries law, are protected. Importantly, the MFA underscores that all management measures must still adhere to science-based annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures (AMs). 
  • The NAS study, released in prepublication form, acknowledges that catch data for recreational fisheries are more difficult to collect because of the lack of universal mandatory catch reporting combined with the large numbers of participants and access points. 
  • The full NAS study can be found here
  • A factsheet with further explanation of the study can be found here.

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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