Fisheries Monitoring and Data Collection Part 3


The last two weekly updates I talked about fisheries monitoring and data collection for commercial fisheries (1-9-2023), the recreational Headboat Survey, and for-hire charter recreational fishing businesses surveys (1-16-2023). In the final part in this series, I am going to outline recreational fisheries monitoring and data collection of private anglers.


The main source of North Carolina recreational private angler monitoring and data collection comes from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, “MRIP is the state-regional-federal partnership that develops, implements, and continually improves a national network of recreational fishing surveys to estimate total recreational catch.” 


According to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), systematic recreational data collection by NOAA Fisheries began in 1979. In North Carolina during the early days of recreational data collection only around 1,400 recreational anglers were interviewed annually. However, in 1987 DMF increased the annual angler interviews to 8,000 and later increased their target sample size to 15,000 anglers. The last six years North Carolina averaged over 470,000 Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses (CRFL) sold annually and an annual average of over 18,600,000 angler trips.


The current version of MRIP consists of two surveys for recreational private anglers: Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS), and the Fishing Effort Survey (FES).



Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS)


APAIS is a survey that is conducted by a trained interviewer as recreational anglers complete a fishing trip. The locations of these interviews are randomly drawn from an online database of public fishing access sites. DMF says, these sites are also “weighted by estimates of expected fishing activity….to ensure that each angler trip has a representative probability of being included in the sample.”


The first items an interviewer collects are location, date, and interview time. Then the interviewer determines the mode (type of place or platform) of fishing. The five modes of recreational fishing are: charter/for-hire vessel, private/rental boat, shore, man-made structure, and headboat. The next bit of information collected is the general area where the angler fished. 


Next the interviewer asks about any fish interactions and classifies them into three categories: observed harvest, reported harvest, and released alive. 


Observed harvested fish are visually observed by the interviewer and species and number are recorded. And whenever possible lengths and weights of each harvested fish are also recorded. Then the angler is asked about fish harvested but either used as bait, filleted, discarded dead, or otherwise unavailable for inspection. This is known as “reported harvest”. And finally, the angler is asked to report species and number of fish caught and released and these are recorded as “released alive”.


Important to note, DMF also mentions survey limitations in the APAIS program. Rare event species (species that are rarely intercepted by samplers) and pulse species (species that are highly migratory or have a short harvest season) do not provide enough data to produce precise estimates of recreational catch in NC. Rare event and pulse species mentioned by DMF include: Tripletail, Tarpon, Swordfish, Gulf Flounder, Cobia, Red Snapper, etc.



Fishing effort survey (FES)


The FES is a voluntary mail survey that is sent to a random sample of the United States Postal Service Computerized Delivery Sequence File of all coastal counties. These self-administered surveys are sent out six times a year to arrive at the end of each bimonthly survey/estimate period, known as a wave. 


This survey collects fishing effort data from all individuals in the household. Each person is individually asked the number of days fished from shore and the number of days fished from a private and/or rental boat. The FES also includes a $2 prepaid cash incentive and asks questions about weather and outdoor activities. If no response, a reminder postcard is sent after one week, then an automated voice message phone call, and eventually a final mailing three weeks after the initial survey was sent if there is no response. In 2020 North Carolina mailed out 21,044 surveys and the overall response rate for all participating states was just over 94%.


Additional NC Specific Recreational Surveys


With MRIP being conducted in saltwater and brackish water areas, DMF also conducts an additional inland recreational angler creel survey to supplement MRIP for anadromous species. In 2004 DMF expanded their intercept surveys to identify and estimate recreational Striped Bass effort and catch in the Central Southern Management Area (CSMA) and further expanded this program in 2012 to include other anadromous fish. In 2019 the top 5 recreationally caught species in the CSMA were Spotted Sea Trout, Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Red Drum, and Striped Bass.


DMF also uses additional mail surveys to supplement MRIP in regards to recreational use of alternate gears. In 2010 DMF began mailing recreational surveys about catch/effort of recreational gigging activities, recreational cast net and seine catch/effort, and recreational harvest of shellfish (crabs, clams, oysters, and scallops).





Now that we have looked at all of the ways our commercial and recreational fisheries are monitored and data is collected here in North Carolina I want to wrap this up with looking at some key takeaways from all of this information.


First looking back at commercial fisheries monitoring and data collection. Every pound of fish commercially landed in NC is accounted for through the DMF fish house trip ticket program. Commercial quotas are closely monitored by using a combination of weekly (and in some cases daily) landings data along with historical landings data. Commercial harvest seasons are closed when quotas are projected to be met through proclamation, often with short notice.


In addition to the fish house trip ticket program, NC commercial fishermen fishing in federal waters must also fill out daily logbooks that must match federal fish dealer logbooks. To validate the vessel logbooks, commercial vessels are required by law to carry on board observers from the state and federal observer programs. To validate fish house trip tickets and federal dealer logbooks, state and federal law enforcement officers go through sales tickets and may also examine fish stored on the premises to make sure all of their landing’s paperwork corresponds with what they buy and sell.


Looking at charter/for-hire, the Southeast Region Headboat Survey is a solid record of monitoring and data collection for this style of recreational fishing. This survey just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year! I was also surprised, but glad to see, that this program also occasionally carries an onboard sampler. 


Other recreational charter/for-hire programs such as the Greater Atlantic and the Southeast logbook programs (eVTR and SEFHIER) were implemented in 2018 and 2021 respectively. These programs are a good step in the right direction to getting more accurate and timely recreational fishing data. 


Private recreational angler fisheries monitoring and data collection could use a little help to put it nicely. And for anyone who has been involved in fisheries management the last few years, you know exactly what I am talking about. For everyone else let me give you some numbers to look at.


Over the last six years in North Carolina the average number of recreational angler trips (total number of trips taken by all NC anglers added together) was over 18,600,000 annually. DMF’s annual target is to intercept 15,000 recreational anglers after their fishing trip to collect data (APAIS program). This is a 0.08% (less than one-tenth of one percent!) intercept rate of all the recreational fishing trips taken in NC every year. Now how that extremely low sample size gives us the estimated total number of recreational harvest and discards is a whole other weekly update, but these are the numbers our fisheries managers are forced to work with. 


Another big issue fisheries managers are seeing with recreational fishing data collection is discards. Recreational dead discards are becoming the dominant source of removals in a lot of popular fisheries according to the estimates that are being produced from recreational surveys. The only hard data collected on recreational discards from any recreational survey that I can find, is from the Southeast Region Headboat Survey. And this is from a sample size of less than 200 headboats compared to the millions of private recreational anglers. All of the other information gathered on recreational discards is from angler reporting to dockside samplers and from the charter/for-hire logbooks. As far as know there is no recreational observer program to validate any of this discard reporting.


I hope I was successful at bringing together (and trying to somewhat simplify) the many facets of fisheries monitoring and data collection here in North Carolina and hopefully it can shed some light on some surveys and monitoring that is performing well and some surveys and monitoring that may need more attention and/or funding to increase sample sizes and/or survey methods. 


We all want the same thing, the very best science for fisheries managers to use to keep our fish stocks and ecosystems healthy. And again, I would like to thank the people who provided feedback and I always welcome additional input, comments, or questions.


Thomas Newman

Fisheries Liaison




The Senate & House begin their long session work beginning this Wednesday. Below are the Senate & House Committees that would consider any saltwater fisheries regulations. Their contact information will be shared soon, but feel free to contact me if you need it right away.

Senator Lisa Barnes, Co-Chair
Senator Brent Jackson, Co-Chair
Senator Norman Sanderson, Co-Chair

Members: Senators Burgin, Craven, Garrett, Grafstein, Hanig, Hunt, Jarvis, McInnis, Murdock, B. Newton, P. Newton, Proctor, Rabon, Salvador, Settle, Smith, Woodard

Representative George Cleveland, Chair
Representative Celeste Cairns, Vice Chair

Members: Representatives Goodwin, Harris, PhD, Harrison, Hawkins, Iler, Kidwell, Longest, Miller, Warren. 

Congratulations to these Senators and Representatives! We look forward to working with y’all over the next several months!

God bless,







As indicated below, the U.S. International Trade Commission has now issued questionnaires in its sunset review proceeding to the U.S. shrimp industry, U.S. shrimp importers, U.S. shrimp purchasers, and exporters and processors in the Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese shrimp industries.   

The responses to these questionnaires, which are due on or before February 6, 2023, will provide the basis for the Commission’s analysis as to whether to keep the antidumping duty orders on Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese shrimp in place for another five years. 

The Commission has asked us to distribute the U.S. farmers’/fishermen’s questionnaire, which is attached to this e-mail.  Also attached to this e-mail are two other documents: (1) the agency’s transmittal cover letter and (2) a schedule of the Commission’s sunset review proceedings.   

The Commission requests that the questionnaire be completed electronically in the MS Word-formatted document in the attachment.  Instructions for filing a response with the Commission are provided at the end of the questionnaire and in the e-mail from Commission staff appended below. 

Compared to the other questionnaires issued by the Commission, the U.S. farmers’/fishermen’s questionnaire requests a limited amount of information.  The most significant question is presented at Question III-1, which requests information regarding your business operations for three calendar years: 2019, 2020, and 2021.  Please note that information regarding the most recent calendar year, 2022, is not being sought in response to this question. 

We recognize that responding to this questionnaire will take some time.  However, the continuation of trade relief on dumped imports from the four countries (China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam) is dependent upon the domestic industry providing information regarding its business operations.  In the absence of such information, the Commission will be unable to determine whether the removal of antidumping duties would likely cause the continuation or recurrence of material injury to the U.S. shrimp industry. 

Thank you, in advance, for your assistance in meeting the U.S. International Trade Commission’s request for information


Below is the original request with links available



To Whom It May Concern:


The United States International Trade Commission is investigating frozen warmwater shrimp under the provisions of Subtitle C of Title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930.


In this proceeding, the Commission must determine whether revocation of the antidumping duty orders on frozen warmwater shrimp from China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury to an industry in the United States within a reasonably foreseeable time.


Your firm has been identified as a possible farmer/fisherman of frozen warmwater shrimp. Please complete and submit the farmer/fisherman questionnaire per the instructions below. Additional information pertaining to this proceeding can be found on the USITC’s website at:


Please complete the questionnaire electronically in the MS Word document. Instructions for filing your response can be found on last page of the questionnaire, or to upload your response to the secure drop box:


Upload via Secure Drop Box.—Upload the completed questionnaire in MS Word format along with a scanned copy of the signed certification page (page 1) through the Commission’s secure upload facility:  Web address  PinSHRIMP


Please return the completed questionnaire to the Commission no later than Monday, February 6, 2022. 




Tyler Berard

Office of Investigations
U.S. International Trade Commission


If you have any questions, please contact:

Southern Shrimp Alliance

 955 E Martin Luther King Jr Dr Suite D, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Phone(727) 934-5090