Fisheries Dependent Monitoring assesses standing stocks of fish and invertebrate species sought by the commercial and sport fishing industry. It is referred to as 'fisheries-dependent' as the programs and data acquisition methods employed, focus as exclusively as possible on those species considered commercially important and not those—while valuable in ecosystem maintenance—that are not considered economically important.
Florida is the sport fishing capital of the nation, and its commercial fishery typically ranks seventh overall in pounds landed and sold, and fifth or sixth in overall value in the United States. In 2004, the value of fish brought to market in Florida exceeded $185 million. A significant portion of the roughly 51 billion dollars spent annually by visitors to Florida, is for seafood; in seafood restaurants; fishing and fisheries related-boating recreation.
Fisheries dependent programs collect and analyze catch data obtained from commercial fishing operations and recreational anglers. These data are used to supplement the Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program, which conducts independent sampling of fishes using trawls, seines and hook-and-line gear. Researchers use this information to monitor trends in the harvest of marine fishes and invertebrates throughout Florida's estuaries and offshore habitats.
Commercial catch data are compiled from trip tickets completed by commercial fishermen, and information gathered in dockside interviews as the catch is being landed. Recreational fisheries data are obtained in dockside interviews with sport fishermen as part of the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS) conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Since 1997, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) has conducted the field portion of the Florida survey, increasing the number of angler interviews by 33% per year, while doubling annually the number of fish measured and weighed. The institute also collects tissue samples from some species to analyze genetic stock structure and test for the presence of mercury in edible tissue.
Fisheries data are calculated and available as total pounds landed; pounds per species; dockside value and in absolute numbers.