This GIS data layer identifies areas that receive high recreational fishing activity in the Massachusetts ocean management planning area. A group of 30 saltwater recreational fishing experts were contacted, with the intention of representing the diversity of recreational fishery. These experts included charter and head boat captains, tackle shop owners and private boat anglers, hailing from ports all across the Massachusetts coast. Their primary target species included striped bass, cod, tuna, bluefish, scup, tautog, sea bass, mackerel, fluke and haddock. Massachusetts state waters was broken into 4 regions: A) Massachusetts Bay and north, B) Cape Code Bay, C) Nantucket Sound and the backside of Cape Cod, and D) Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Experts were mailed maps of each region with a mosaic of the NOAA nautical charts in the background. Each expert was asked to identify the areas they feel receive high levels of recreational fishing activity, following a set of rules: 1) Include activity of all skill levels (not just where an expert might fish). 2) Include current activity levels, not where historical fisheries might have occurred. 3) Only comment on areas directly familiar with. Responses were received from 17 experts, with 6 individuals commenting on regions A, B and D; Nine individuals commented on region C. The paper maps with hand-drawn responses were scanned, geo-referenced, digitized and converted to a 250 x 250-meter raster grid. All grid cells within the Massachusetts ocean management planning area that were identified by an expert as receiving high levels of recreational fishing activity were given a value of 1, otherwise 0.
To allow for consistent evaluation and comparison of a variety of datasets with distinct spatial resolutions, accuracies, and other characteristics, the Massachusetts ocean management planning area was partitioned into 250 x 250-meter grid cells, each with a unique ID. These data were converted to the planning area grid by extracting all of the cells in which the data layer occurred. The data were then dissolved into one feature.