LA Creel is LDWF’s recreational saltwater landings data collection program. LA Creel uses a combination of data collected dockside and through phone and email surveys to estimate recreational saltwater fish harvests. The goal of LA Creel is to provide statistically significant recreational fishery information to aid in managing Louisiana’s valuable fishery resources.
How does LA Creel work?
At public fishing areas, including boat launches, marinas, piers, roadsides, and beaches, our biologists interview charter captains and groups of saltwater anglers about their fishing activities (where they fished, length of their trip, number and species of fish thrown back, etc.). They also identify and count the interviewees’ catch. Biologists record fish weights, lengths, and other biological data if time allows (they also collect such data under a separate program). If a captain or angler is not finished with their trip, we ask them to fill out a card with information about their trip and mail it to us to ensure we can completely account for their data.
We also contact saltwater anglers and captains weekly by phone and email to interview them about their fishing activities from the previous week.
The data collected in person provide landings numbers (the count of fish by species each angler has in his possession), while the data from phone/email surveys provide effort numbers (amount of trips taken).
History of LA Creel
LDWF has been involved in collecting recreational saltwater landings data since NOAA Fisheries established the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) in the early 1980s. Over the years, we found issues with using this nationwide survey (which later became the Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP) for managing our local fisheries:
- Inability to reliably estimate landings at a basin or sub-state level
- Insufficient sample size (catch-per-unit-effort, size frequency, age data, etc.)
- Estimates of angler participation far exceed recreational licenses
- Imprecise landings estimates for many species
- Landings estimates not timely enough to monitor in-season quotas.
We need more precise, real-time, localized data to better manage our fisheries. We first designed a red snapper landings survey in 2013. After this survey proved to successfully provide high quality landings statistics, we expanded it to all saltwater recreational species, fully implementing LA Creel on January 1, 2014 at marinas and boat launches throughout Louisiana and replacing MRIP.
In January 2018, NOAA Fisheries certified LA Creel as an alternative to the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) and the Fishing Effort Survey (FES), which MRIP uses to collect catch and effort data. Because LA Creel has earned NOAA Fisheries certification, it is eligible to receive federal support for its implementation and improvement. Statistics derived from LA Creel can be used in federal stock assessments and management actions as soon as a transition plan is developed to guide how LA Creel data will be integrated with and calibrated against the historical MRIP estimates to make the two comparable.
Why is LA Creel better?
LA Creel improves data collection methods and is specifically tailored to fit Louisiana’s unique recreational fisheries and coastal areas. LA Creel minimizes the burden of recreational data collection on anglers and captains, maximizes the efficiency of recreational surveys, and provides precise, near real-time harvest estimates.
- Reduced sample period (one week) makes landings estimates available to fishery managers two weeks after data are collected.
- Stratifying survey sites (inshore vs. offshore fishing activity) provides more representative and precise landings estimates.
- More intensive sampling reduces statistical error, which translates into more reliable, more precise estimates of recreational harvests. LA Creel has reduced statistical error in harvest estimates for many of our top recreational species.
- Targets only licensed saltwater anglers and offshore permit holders resulting in greater precision and efficiency in collection of data. (MRIP conducted monthly interviews with 5 to 10 percent of households in coastal areas, including those who are not licensed to fish.)
- Reduced survey length allows for increase in surveyed trips, which means more representative catch rates and accurate landings estimates.
- Provides information on area-specific harvest for saltwater recreational species for the first time in Louisiana history. Basin-level data allows us to customize management of fisheries within basins. For example, if anglers are catching too many of a particular species of fish in Barataria Basin but not in Calcasieu Basin, we can implement the appropriate measures to restrict harvest in Barataria Basin and keep Calcasieu Basin open.
How do recreational fishermen benefit from LA Creel?
- More precise saltwater recreational landings estimates, resulting in greater confidence that stock assessments are accurate.
- Reduced burden for completing surveys. LA Creel uses technology to capture angler catch information, reducing dockside and phone survey questions and relying on email, anglers’ preferred method of contact, as the primary effort survey method.
- More localized fishery management decisions due to LA Creel’s ability to capture basin-level data. Each of our basins has their own unique habitat, potentially requiring different management measures to maximize angler success, opportunity, and enjoyment.
- Near real-time data provides us the ability to set flexible fishing seasons that allow anglers to take full advantage of available fishery resources. For example, LA Creel has been critical in improving management of Louisiana’s recreational red snapper season.
Who pays for LA Creel?
In 2014, recreational anglers supported legislation to fund LA Creel through an increased saltwater fishing license fee. This license fee increase will sunset on May 31, 2022. State funding for LA Creel will cease at that time unless legislation is introduced and passed to extend the license fee increase.
LDWF also receives limited funding from NOAA Fisheries to support LA Creel dockside activities.
Help Us Make LA Creel Even Better
We rely on and appreciate anglers and charter captains’ continued participation in LA Creel’s in-person and phone/email surveys—the accuracy and reliability of LA Creel depend on it.
More data means greater accuracy. Biologists work about 120 assignments every month, on average surveying 2,500 anglers and captains and counting 8,000 fish a month to collect as much data and maintain the highest level of accuracy as possible. Such extensive monitoring gives managers more confidence in these data and provides a better foundation for sound, timely management of Louisiana’s recreational fisheries, which means improved and increased fishing opportunities for years to come. If you are asked to participate in the survey, please know that the survey typically takes less than two minutes and that your trip information is vitally important to the success of LA Creel. Even if you did not keep a single fish, that information is important and we want to survey you.
We use our saltwater fishing license database to conduct email and phone surveys to supplement data collected through dockside surveys. For the email and phone surveys to be successful, we need saltwater anglers and charter captains to provide accurate contact information when they get or renew their fishing licenses. These surveys are just as important as our dockside survey. Like the dockside survey, email and phone surveys are short. We just want to know about any fishing trips you may have taken the previous week. Please go to our Licenses and Permits site to update your address, phone number, and/or email.