Last week the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management released a report that studied the nation’s most pressing issues regarding saltwater management and conservation. Among other details, the report went on at length regarding the economic impact of saltwater fishing, and the coastal states that depend on the activity. Over 11 million Americans count themselves as saltwater anglers, and they contribute more than $70 billion in economic output for the nation’s economy.
“For many reasons, I’m deeply committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s fisheries to ensure a bright future for the great American tradition of fishing. It’s not only vitally important to our economy, it’s also very important to our society and for getting kids connected to the outdoors and understanding the need for conservation,” said Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops Founder, CEO and co-chair of the Commission. “Sharing our outdoor heritage with our children and grandchildren means we must work hard now to improve saltwater recreational fisheries management.”
The report, titled A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries, stressed how vital saltwater fishing is to America. While residents in the nation’s heartland may not see these effects directly, coastal communities rely heavily on recreational fishing. The report points out that current management of marine fisheries is inadequate due to a number of factors, notably that laws governing saltwater fisheries are geared predominately towards commercial fishing.
Florida, with more than 4,878,000 saltwater anglers, took the lead as the state with highest number of avid saltwater fishermen. North Carolina came in at a distant second, while New Jersey and California rounded out third and fourth place, respectively. The report states that America’s saltwater anglers contribute nearly $1.5 billion annually for conservation and habitat preservation. Without these funds, fisheries conservation be a shadow of what it is today. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nearly 210 jobs are created for every 100,000 pounds of fish landed by saltwater anglers. In contrast, the commercial fishing industry only generates 4.5 jobs for the same amount.
Therefore the report urges the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act—the primary law which governs saltwater fisheries in the United States—to be taken with the following steps:
- A national policy for recreational fishing
- A revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management that promotes both conservation and access
- Allocation of marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
- Reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
- A process for cooperative management
- Managing for the forage base
“It’s an honor to participate in the commission’s work and in the development of this landmark document,” said Scott Deal, commission co-chair and Maverick Boats president. “This is the first time the recreational fishing community and the fishing and boating industries have clearly set forth what we believe the majority of the nation’s recreational anglers want regarding our saltwater fisheries laws, management policies and regulations.”