CFRS Completes First Year

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Posted by DFG on April 10, 2005 at 12:07:35:

In Reply to: State's anglers, bureaucrats prefer stats in 'Cerfs' report posted by on April 10, 2005 at 11:59:38:

If you’re an avid saltwater fisherman, you’ve probably heard about it. You’ve probably even talked to the folks who are the backbone of it, when you return to your home port after a fishing trip. What is “it”? The California Recreational Fishery Survey, or CRFS for short.

How did the CRFS, a new and improved method for gathering saltwater fishing information, come into being? Before the CRFS was created and implemented, Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistical Survey (MRFSS) data were used for making crucial management decisions. In recent years, constituents and fishery managers expressed concern over the use of MRFSS data, particularly for making in-season decisions for groundfish. To address concerns, California and other West Coast policymakers recommended the development of a new program to replace the MRFSS. Staff from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) designed CRFS to more comprehensively sample California’s recreational fisheries, incorporating selected elements of the MRFSS program and the high frequency on-site sampling of private vessels from the DFG’s Ocean Salmon Project.

CRFS samplers began hitting the docks, jetties, beaches, and other prime fishing spots in January 2004. The new sampling program provides estimates of catch and effort every month, rather than every two months as with the MRFSS. Field samplers interview fishermen within six distinct geographic regions, as compared to two regions for MRFSS. Samplers record a greater diversity of information for each fisherman surveyed, including trip target, fishing mode, area fished, and the fisherman’s catch. To support the increased complexity of the survey, twice as many samplers were hired in 2004. With double the samplers working more hours, the number of surveys completed in 2004 more than tripled. The focus on smaller geographic areas, monthly reports, and greater diversity of gathered information has given fishery managers more vital and timely information than ever before.

CRFS also incorporates a telephone survey that uses a limited licensed angler database. One in every 20 licensed fishermen is asked to provide their name and telephone number for the database when they buy their licenses. Anglers are then randomly contacted and asked to complete a survey over the phone. Interviewers especially want to talk to anglers who fish at night, fish from beach/bank areas, and who begin their fishing trips from private launch points inaccessible to samplers. Because only licensed fishermen are contacted, the improved telephone survey gathers more pertinent information than before, for the same amount of interviewer effort.

Results To Date

Data for 2004 were thoroughly analyzed in early 2005 to ensure accuracy. Both founding agencies spent considerable time creating and implementing new comparison methods that allow direct comparison of CRFS data to previous survey and logbook data. New estimation methods were also formulated, as the previous estimation methods would not work for the more complex CRFS data.

Preliminary estimates for 2004 were posted to the RecFIN Web site ( on March 1, 2005. The preliminary data indicate that catches were generally lower than estimated using MRFSS data, primarily because of the extensive use of exit counts by the CRFS program to generate effort estimates instead of the “random digit dialing” telephone survey used in the MRFSS program.

The Future of CRFS

The DFG and the PSMFC are encouraged by the successful implementation of this monumental program, as well as the more accurate estimates of catch and effort. As with any program, there is always room for improvement and DFG will be striving to strengthen and expand CRFS. In 2005, twice as many telephone surveys are slated to take place to provide a more accurate estimate of fishing effort for night-time, beach/bank and private access fishing modes. DFG will also continue to improve the sampling program, the data review, and the estimation process.

For More Information About CRFS, Visit the Following Web Sites:

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