Preliminary results from a national survey reveal good news for fishing.
Following decades of stagnant or even declining numbers of anglers, participation increased significantly during the past five years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that the number of anglers increased by 11 percent.
Additionally, nearly 38 percent of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
If you are someone who enjoys solitude on the lake, this might not seem like good news. Here’s why it is:
Fisheries management is financed by license fees and excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. Funds from latter are collected through the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program, also known as Wallop-Breaux, and then distributed to the states. So . . . more people fishing translates into more money for protecting and enhancing fisheries.
Here’s more from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding preliminary results of the survey:
- In 2011, 13.7 million people, 6 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, went hunting. They spent $34.0 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter.
- More than 33 million people 16 and older fished in 2011, spending $41.8 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items, an average of $1,262 per angler.
- More than 71 million people engaged in wildlife watching in 2011, spending $55.0 billion on their activities.
At the request of state fish and wildlife agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting the national survey every five years since 1955. It is viewed as one of the nation’s most important wildlife-related recreation databases and the definitive source of information concerning participation and purchases associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife-related recreation nationwide.
“State agencies, hunters and anglers are the key funders of fish and wildlife conservation through their license and gear purchases,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
“An increase in participation and expenditure rates means that agencies can continue to restore and improve habitat and fish and wildlife species, bring more youth into the outdoors and provide even greater access to recreational activities.”
The U.S. Census Bureau interviewed 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers for detailed interviews. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.
The survey is funded through a Multi-State Conservation Grant from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which celebrates 75 years of conservation success in 2012.
Preliminary results of the National Overview report can be found here.