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MOREHEAD CITY – A proposed new recreational fishing survey could soon expand into North Carolina and may serve as a prototype for fishing data collection nationwide.

If approved, the project will be conducted in partnership between NOAA Fisheries and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. It will use contact information from the state’s new Coastal Recreational Fishing License to develop improved recreational data collection methods.

NOAA is seeking public comments on the proposed pilot project through Nov. 13, and DMF plans to begin its first phone surveys under the program in late December and early January.

“This is a great program that satisfies the primary objective of the division in pursuing the Coastal Recreational Fishing License, which was better information on the recreational fishery in North Carolina,” said DMF Director Louis Daniel.

Currently, the federal government and the state collect recreational fishing data through the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey, a program that will be phased out during the next several years. This program uses random phone surveys of coastal households to estimate saltwater recreational catches. But this is a less effective means of gathering information because usually only a small percentage of those called actually fished during the survey period.

Recent changes in federal law require the federal government to conduct future surveys by targeting anglers through licensing or registration programs. The pilot project is part of a new Marine Recreational Information Program being designed by NOAA to meet this requirement.

The pilot project will test the assumption that replacing the existing random phone survey of coastal residents with a survey of only those people who purchased a saltwater fishing license will improve efficiency and lead to a more accurate accounting of angler fishing habits.

A similar project is already being tested in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The inclusion of North Carolina in the program will help NOAA fine-tune its survey methods.

Comments on the pilot project may be sent to [email protected] through Nov. 13.

For more information about the pilot program, e-mail [email protected] or visit

For questions regarding North Carolina’s role in the program, contact Doug Mumford at (800) 338-7804 or (252) 948-3876 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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I just read an article in the New Bern Sun Journal about the federal registration taking effect in 2010. It says "In most states, the registration will come with an annual fee of about $10 to $25." Since the state already has a listing of the salt water fishermen by selling licenses, it seems like any fee for federal registration would not be justified. I hope they use some common sense and just send their list to the feds.
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