National Science Foundation/USGS Internship Opportunities

Estimating national inland recreational fish harvest

While recreational fisheries yield is more than ten times that of commercial yield in inland waters, the U.S. does not currently report any recreational harvest up to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This project is aimed at using a novel approach to provide a U.S.-wide estimate of recreational inland fish harvest and project it with global change. 

Link to PDF Version.

Project Hypothesis or Objectives:

Recreational fishing dominates inland fisheries within the United States.  In 2016, alone, more than 30.1 million Americans identified as freshwater anglers and spent $29.9 billion on freshwater fishing trips.  While not all freshwater angling is consumptive (i.e., some is catch-and-release), a large component of the fishery is harvested.  Evidence suggests that recreational fisheries yield is more than ten times that of commercial yield in inland waters.  Yet, the only nationally reported harvest from U.S. inland waters to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is commercial harvest from the Great Lakes.  Given the importance of recreational fishing, this figure as a national summary statistic is misleading. 

Underestimation of inland fisheries can lead to undervaluation.   The overall goal of this project is to improve national estimates of inland recreational harvest to ensure that the important economic, social, and cultural services provided by inland angling are not discounted.

Duration: Up to 12 months

Internship Location: Reston, VA

Keywords: Biology/microbiology/biochemistry, Climate Change, Computer/Data Science, Ecology/Ecosystems, Modeling, Population Dynamics

Applicable NSF Division: BIO (Environmental Biology, Molecular & Cellular Biosciences, Biological Infrastructure, Integrative Organismal Systems)

Intern Type Preference: Any Type of Intern


  • Compile creel data and angler survey data for inland waterbodies from all 50 states;
  • Develop a spatially-explicit model of recreational harvest using remotely-sensed and in-situ environmental data in a Bayesian framework;
  • Project the response of recreational harvest with global change (climate and land use);
  • Collaborate with state managers to institutionalize this exercise, standardize national inland reporting to FAO, and provide an online platform for state managers to examine intra- and inter-state inland angling trends to inform management decisions regarding their fisheries.
  • Work with USGS scientists and university partners to integrate outputs of research into science to action projects ongoing within the DOI CASC network.

Expected Outcome:

This innovative assessment will improve estimates of inland fisheries harvest nationally to inform future management and conservation efforts. Better estimates of recreational harvest are particularly important in the context of global change. Ultimately, how climate change and land use change will impact recreational fisheries will have social and economic consequences.

Special skills/training Required:

  • Knowledge of Bayesian modeling methods, geospatial information systems (GIS), and geospatial analysis;
  • Excellent technical, analytical, computer, organizational, and problem-solving skills;
  • Ability to work collaboratively and independently.


Abigail J. Lynch, Ph.D.

Research Fish Biologist
National Climate Adaptation Science Center
Phone: 703-648-4097