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Old 04-05-2006, 05:43 PM
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National Research Council (NRC) confirms flawed science

Arlington, Virginia, April 5, 2006-- After years of complaints by recreational anglers to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other agencies about the flawed recreational fishing data system, the NRC, an independent scientific body from the National Academy of Sciences, verified their concerns.

On Wednesday, March 29, 2006, the NRC confirmed that the main data collection system for recreational anglers, the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistics Survey (MRFSS), has serious flaws in design or implementation and use[s] inadequate analysis methods that need to be addressed immediately.

RFA leaders, anglers and heads of other fishing organizations have insisted that the main methodology for sampling the universe of anglers, and determining their catch and effort, was woefully inadequate for management and policy decisions.

The NRC found the design, sampling techniques and collection fatally flawed, failing to use current survey sampling theories or even taking the human dimension of fishing into consideration. These findings prompted a recommendation by the NRC for a complete redesign of the program.

"The recreational fishing community has been saying MRFSS is seriously flawed, and has submitted data to demonstrate that fact," states Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of RFA. "The findings of the NRC report outline ways to improve the current data system that we have been advocating for years. We're hopeful that these findings will lead to a major overhaul. We applaud Dr. Bill Hogarth, Head of NMFS, for tackling this difficult issue. Dr. Hogarth has shown leadership and resolve in solving this persistent problem.

The use of this flawed data collection over the years has caused serious economic hardship in many fishing communities throughout the U.S. Marinas and fishing-dependent businesses have been severely impacted by regulatory decisions based on MRFSS inaccuracies.

"These findings belabor the obvious," states Raymond Bogan, RFA counsel. Data which plainly demonstrated major errors, and recommendations to help improve the system, have in the past fallen on deaf ears. Hopefully now those fisheries managers who have so staunchly supported this broken system will acknowledge its flaws and work to help fix it.

The Nation's primary fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, is up for reauthorization this year. Current versions in the House and Senate have addressed recreational data collection concerns. We will continue to work with the sponsors to help assure this problem is fixed.

"We are hopeful that the final bill will drive these improvements to the finish line," said Donofrio.
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