The Impact of Nonsampling Errors on Estimators of Catch from Electronic Reporting Systems

Abstract

The National Marine Fisheries Service is the agency charged with estimating the number of fish removed from US oceans by recreational anglers. Two surveys produce data for these estimates; one measures number of angler trips and the other fish caught per trip by species, geography, and time period. Both surveys collect data from people and have the usual sources of nonsampling error afflicting demographic surveys. Due to lack of accessibility to fishing sites, they also have additional sources such as undercoverage. The rare incidence of saltwater fishing among the general population makes the current method costly and time-consuming. Consequently, new ways of obtaining information to supplement or replace the current method are of interest. One is the electronic logbook (ELB); this approach allows anglers to self-report their catch using cellphones or other communication devices. Estimation of catch from these data are possible with estimators using capture-recapture methods, but new sources of nonsampling error are rising. In this article, we examine three sources of nonsampling error in estimators of catch and approximate their biasing effect. We illustrate the method by comparing the effects using data from an ELB study in the Gulf of Mexico.