Charter Boat Survey Program
Michigan's charter boat industry increased from 250 operations in 1979 to nearly 900 in 1989. The charter fishing industry provides Michigan's economy with significant economic benefits each year. For example, 239,000 clients spent an estimated $21 million in addition to charter fees in 1985, and the total statewide investment by charter boat firms in the same year was estimated to exceed $30 million (Mahoney et al. 1986). The Michigan Legislature in 1994 passed Part 445 of Public Act 451. This legislation re-authorized the law, which requires the reporting of sport catch and effort by the charter fishing industry. The legislation was supported by the Michigan Charter Boat Association (MCBA), an industry representative, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). The law requires that all operators maintain (on board) an up-to-date daily log of their catch and fishing activity, and submit these records (monthly) to the MDNR Charter Boat Survey Program.
The objective of the MDNR, Fisheries Division's catch reporting system is to obtain a continuous annual record of fishing effort and the number, type, and location of fish harvested by charter boat anglers in Michigan. These data will aid the MDNR's Great Lakes fishery management efforts by providing valuable trend information about charter harvest and catch rates, which reflect the status of fish stocks important to the industry. The data will also allow the MCBA to monitor the health and welfare of its industry.
Charter Survey Methods
The Michigan Charter Boat Daily Catch Report Form (PR8206) was developed in 1989 by a committee made up of two members each from the MDNR and the MCBA. Report forms and grid maps of the Great Lakes are mailed annually (during March) to all known charter operators. Charter operators are identified from previous years' lists of reporting operators and from Sport Trolling Licenses purchased from Law Enforcement Division.
The report form requires the following information: an assigned identification number for each charter boat, lake, date fished, port, grid fished, hours fished, number of resident and nonresident anglers, catch (number) of major species, and number of sea lamprey seen attached to chinook salmon or lake trout. Data regarding number of sea lamprey observed by charter operators are collected in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Sea Lamprey Control program. These data are used by the USFWS as an index of sea lamprey abundance. Space is also provided on the report form for comments or observations. Completed data forms returned to the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station are logged, coded by port, and entered on computer.
Charter Survey Analyses and Results
Three measures of fishing effort are summarized from returned reports: angler hours, angler trips, and charter excursions. Angler hours are based upon total hours fished (dock to dock) by each angler. An angler trip is one completed fishing outing by one individual. A charter excursion is one completed boat trip. For example, if a charter operator took four anglers fishing for 6 hours, total fishing effort would be 24 angler hours, 4 angler trips, and 1 charter excursion. Tables summarizing catch and effort for selected ports around the Great Lakes, as well as totals for each lake and all lakes combined, are prepared each year and provided to the cooperating operators, as well as to the MCBA and other interested members of the public.
Charter boat reports and tables.
Michigan Charter Boat Association
Charter Boat Harvest Online Reporting