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Atlantic Highly Migratory Species MRIP Working Group Releases Regional Implementation Plan

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David Paff
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The Atlantic Highly Migratory Species, or HMS, Working Group recently completed its MRIP Regional Implementation Plan. The plan summarizes the data needs associated with Atlantic HMS science and management, evaluates existing recreational data collections, sets priorities for their improvement and expansion, and identifies the steps and funding needed to accomplish those improvements.

Significant recreational fisheries exist for most Atlantic HMS. In 2016, nearly 24,000 vessel permits (20,020 HMS Angling and 3,594 HMS Charter/Headboat) were issued for the recreational pursuit of Atlantic tunas, billfish, swordfish, and sharks in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S. Caribbean. Additionally, 262 tournaments pursuing HMS registered with NOAA Fisheries in 2016. The collection of precise and timely catch and effort data is essential to the effective management of these fisheries, and a multitude of data collection methods are currently used. Many of these data collections fall under the umbrella of MRIP, including the Large Pelagics Survey.

The Atlantic HMS Regional Implementation Plan closely aligns with MRIPs five-year Strategic Plan. The Atlantic HMS MRIP Working Group includes participants from NOAA Fisheries Regional Offices and Science Centers, NOAA Fisheries Headquarters, Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions, and the States.