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NOAA planning new survey of recreational saltwater fishermen

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) is planning a new Coastal Household Telephone Survey. NOAA is announcing in the Federal Register of Monday, June 2, 2014 that it is taking public comments on its plan to survey marine recreation anglers about their trips and what they catch. But first, it is taking public comments on the idea until Aug. 1.

NOAA periodically surveys fishermen about when and how often they fish, how much they catch, what types of fish they get and also some demographic information about themselves. The agency is required to collect the data under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act.

You can send your comments to Jennifer Jessup, departmental paperwork clearance officer, DoC, Room 6616, 14th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20230, email at JJessup@doc.gov). If you have any questions or want to see a copy of the proposed survey, contact Anjunell Lewis, (301) 427-8145, email Anjunell.Lewis@NOAA.gov. The Office of Management & Budget (OMB) has not yet assigned a control number for the project. NOAA is taking public comments before approaching OMB.

The survey will use a random digit dialing approach to contact residences in coastal counties to ask about their recent recreational saltwater fishing. Based on results, NOAA will estimate how much people in the coastal towns fish. (Separately, NOAA surveys fishermen on site, something called the the Access-Point Angler Intercept Survey, but that is not at issue here.)

NOAA plans to combine the results of the two surveys and give the information to its National Marine Fisheries Service, regional fishery management councils and state and regional fishery agencies to use in monitoring their fishery management programs. NOAA says the survey will take about two minutes per household. It plans to survey 214,398 homes.

The announcement does not deal with issues such as knowing which households actually are located in coastal communities. Many households only use cellphones, which could have numbers from anywhere. The old system of telling one's community by phone number no longer applies. Nor does the survey try to include people who live outside coastal communities who travel to fish.