by Jan Fogt January/February 2015 Volume 14 Edition 1
INTRO QUOTE: Thanks to a batch of recent socio-economic studies highlighting the financial importance of strong recreational and professional charter fishing industries, a real sea change could be coming in federal fisheries management.
As longtime New England Fisheries Management Council member Rip Cunningham said after seeing the American Sportfishing Association’s 2013 Sportfishing in America study by Southwick and Associates, “This industry is an economic powerhouse.” Those words recently were underscored by yet another study by the Commission for Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management suggesting that recreational sportfishing is a multi-billion business. And though the high-dollar sportfishing tournaments and $6- to $8-million dollar boats being built by Merritt, Bayliss, Spencer, Viking and others were not factored into the equation, annual fishing trips and jobs created by the industry were enough for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s second in command, Eileen Sobeck, to promise a national policy for recreational fishing much like the one mandated for commercial fishing interests when the Magnuson Act created our federal fishery management policies and councils in 1978.
So instead of dwelling on the fact it’s taken 36 years for sport fishermen to achieve equal footing with commercial fishermen in the eyes of the federal government, maybe we should take a closer look at how our growing industry is helping the nation’s economy. Through federal excise taxes on tackle and marine fuel and fishing licenses, sport fishing contributes almost $1.5 billion a year towards marine research, habitat and fisheries restoration and marine conservation. Locally, your boat registration fees fund boat ramps and city and community marinas along with marine safety education programs.
It’s All in the Numbers
In terms of jobs, fresh and saltwater fishing directly employs 828,000 in this country, a number that does not reflect jobs in the boating industry, which for fiscal year 2013 accounted for more than 300,000 according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. And since NMMA’s 2013 economic survey substantiates the fact that 60 percent of boat owners fished while boating last year, I think we can safely say that recreational fishing is responsible for more than a billion jobs in this country. That’s more than the automotive industry! Yes, you read that right. According to the United States Primary Bureau of Labor Statistics, 789,800 people were employed by motor vehicle and parts manufacturers in 2013.
All of this amounts to $48 plus billion in fishing equipment sales, resulting in a $115 billion impact on the economy once multipliers are applied from annual sales figures. Despite the recent recession, fishing tackle sales actually have grown at a rate of……(To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.