NOAA needs to hear from recreational anglers regarding the MRIP numbers they use to calculate how many fish we can catch. The following open post by Captain Monty Hawkins is being reprinted here, with his permission.
NOAA wants to know what YOU think of our recreational catch estimates. This is a very real opportunity for you to make a difference. Honestly, YOU can help change fisheries management for the better with a simple email...
This has never happened before that I'm aware of. For this comment period NOAA specifically wants to know if the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) meets standards set in the "Information Quality Act" and is suitable for use as 'Best Available Scientific Information' for regulation/management of our fisheries as required by the Magnuson Stevens Act. Personally, I don't think MRIP meets any standard for accuracy. Our estimates are instead a complete fabrication. Every time I think MRIP cannot possibly be more inaccurate, up it goes to a new plateau of ridiculousness. (Why sure I'll give you some examples of exactly what I mean by that.. See below!)
I'll not keep my thoughts a secret. It is my sincere hope readers will also chime in with a comment. A simple sentence or two about your (lack of?) faith in the catch data, or what you think of monies long invested (or wasted!) in the program; perhaps what you think a likely outcome of "science based regulation" when fisheries science is force-fed statistics from the rubbish heap.
Why on earth couldn't NJ Shore Tautog Anglers catch more tog in a few days of March/April 2010 than ALL COMMERCIAL TRAWL/TRAP & PARTY/CHARTER For-Hire Recreational caught in the entirety of 2010. No reason to flag that, right? But in MRIP there's no catch that's not feasible. Maryland’s 2016 Sept/Oct sea bass estimate, for another example, shows 178,000 lbs landed from SHORE.
What? Seriously... from Shore. Oh, and those sea bass averaged 1.4 lbs. Yeah. I was able to find one angler who caught a barely legal sea bass near the inlet that year. At just over a half pound, MD's real shore sea bass landings were therefore 0.0003% the MRIP value. Probably not well-suited to use in science.
Believe this - we must convince NOAA their precious MRIP catch estimates are now so flawed as to be falsely inflating stock estimates of common recreationally caught species. Their catch estimates have ALWAYS needlessly tightened recreational regulation. Now they’ve even begun inflating commercial quota. Blinding fisheries science, hampering recreational fishings’ bio-economic potential; and indeed, preventing management from seeing any value in focusing on population ecology or spawning biology...
MRIP is a mess. Needs to be taken behind the woodshed in grand fashion.
A very short letter will suffice. Even: “No, MRIP is NOT ACCURATE enough to support sound Fisheries Science & Management.” Angry is OK. Expletives are not.
Captain Monty Hawkins
Partyboat Morning Star