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What Leads Anglers to Report their Catch Voluntarily?

Megan Rowland fishes the surf at sunrise at Carolina Beach.

Some Anglers Eagerly Contribute Important Information on Fisheries . . . and Some Anglers Don’t

Research Need

Accurate catch and effort information — like the type and number of fish caught and the amount of time spent fishing — is critical to effective management of marine fisheries. The vast majority of catch-and-effort data is collected through a large and complex survey called the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), which NOAA Fisheries runs in conjunction with coastal states. Think of the creel clerks that you might encounter at the boat ramp or the fishing effort survey document you might have gotten in the mail. In addition to that survey, voluntary data collection efforts provide new sources of fisheries information, but recruitment and retention of anglers in these voluntary programs can be a struggle. A better understanding of angler motivations and barriers to participation can help managers design more effective voluntary data collection efforts.

What did they study?

The investigators administered a survey to participants in the Snook & Gamefish Foundation’s Angler Action Program, which hosts a voluntary data collection platform designed both to supplement fisheries management and serve as a personal catch log. Based on initial responses, investigators in turn grouped survey respondents as either active participants (i.e., having signed up and logged a trip) or non-participants (i.e., having signed up but never logged a trip). Respondents rated the motivations and barriers to participation common in other voluntary data collection programs.

What did they find?

Active participants in the program reported that they wanted to improve fisheries data, contribute to original research, and improve fisheries for the enjoyment of all. The biggest barriers to participation for nonparticipants were lack of knowledge about the program, despite having signed up for it, and less time spent fishing. There appeared to be no difference in satisfaction with fisheries management among participants and nonparticipants.

What else did they find?

The authors suggest that offering participants a summary of data collected and communicating with anglers about the value of the data and how managers use it may be effective recruiting and retention tools.


Crandall, C., M. Monroe, J. Dutka‐Gianelli, B. Fitzgerald and K. Lorenzen 2018. How to bait the hook: Identifying what motivates anglers to participate in a volunteer angler data program. Fisheries. Volume 43. No. 11. November 2018. Pp. 517-526.

Summary compiled by Scott Baker
Lead photo by Roger Winstead/NC State

The text from Hook, Line & Science is available to reprint and republish at no cost with this attribution: Hook, Line & Science, courtesy of Scott Baker and Sara Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant.