Report released on the uses and limitations on data collected from community monitoring programs
As new technologies make it easier than ever for individual anglers to share their catch information, many recreational anglers are interested in providing information about their fishing trips and what they're catching outside of our existing surveys. MRIP and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) co-hosted a workshop in February 2012 to look at the uses and limitations of these types of data.
A report summarizing the discussions and findings from the workshop is now available on MRIP's website at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov. The report explains that, while "opt-in" information can be highly useful for some applications, it is not appropriate for others. For example, the report notes that data from community monitoring programs have been "very important in developing bag/creel and size limit regulations for some states." However, the report also emphasized that it would not be appropriate for community monitoring programs to replace the current system of catch and effort surveys. Community monitoring programs differ from our current catch and effort surveys, which use statistically rigorous procedures to randomly select participants. This ensures that the individuals we sample are representative of the entire population of anglers.
The workshop brought together a panel of NOAA Fisheries representatives; state, council and commission partners; state and regional environmental non-governmental organizations; charter captains; private anglers; and technical experts to examine the uses of data gathered from community monitoring programs. Community monitoring programs are designed to collect information from anglers who choose to submit their catch and activity using a logbook or electronic reporting system.
As part of the workshop, the MAFMC compiled a collection of community monitoring programs operated both by states and independent organizations along the Atlantic and Florida Gulf coasts. Information on the use of data collected from these programs, and considerations for using such data, are detailed in the workshop report https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/mdms/doc/Volunteer%20Data%20Workshop%20Summary%20Final.pdf and http://www.mafmc.org/events/StatePrograms.htm