Resource managers in the United States rely primarily on outputs from stock assessments to inform fishery management decisions. Reliable stock assessments depend on the availability of both quality and sufficient data collection systems. In the U. S. Exclusive Economic Zone, management actions are governed by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson Act). As mandated by the Magnuson Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service has developed ten National Standards, or principles, to be followed in all fishery management plans to ensure sustainable and responsible fishery management. National Standard Two requires resource managers to employ the best scientific information available when establishing annual catch limits and regulating fishery resources. In the Gulf of Mexico, species are qualitatively categorized as data-rich or data-poor by managers; these designations are defined based on the quantity and quality of data available for a species. These designations indirectly determine if a relatively sophisticated stock assessment model (e.g., catch-at-age) may be used to assess the species, or if a less data-intensive modeling approach (e.g., landings-only) is more appropriate. Ideally, any improvements to data collection efforts would produce benefits for both data quality categorizations and both stock assessment rigor and management advice. The most pressing data needs in the Gulf of Mexico are: characterizing discard mortality; defining the universe of recreational fishing effort; and determining the ecosystem function and value of submerged artificial structures. Enhancements in fishery-dependent monitoring and data collection efforts could benefit the stock assessments of multiple species. Such efforts may lead to improved satisfaction of National Standard Two and also contribute to more robust stock assessments of previously data-poor species.