Sport fishing advocates have long made the argument that recreational fishing in our oceans is just as valuable economically as commercial fishing, while having a much smaller impact on the resource.
Now there’s a first-of-its kind analysis confirming that assessment.
“Comparing NOAA’s Recreational and Commercial Fishing Economic Data, May 2013” provides an “apples-to-apples" comparison of recreational fishing and commercial marine fishing from an economic perspective, using NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Services (NOAA Fisheries) 2011 data, according to the American Sportfishing Association.
“It’s something we’ve suspected for some time, but NOAA’s own data clearly shows that recreational saltwater fishing needs to be held in the same regard as commercial fishing,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman.
“The current federal saltwater fisheries management system has historically focused the vast majority of its resources on the commercial sector, when recreational fishing is found to have just as significant an economic impact on jobs and the nation’s economy.”
Findings in the report prepared by Southwick Associates include the following:
- Anglers landed just two percent of the total saltwater finfish landings compared to ninety-eight percent caught by the commercial fishing industry.
- Saltwater landings by anglers contributed three times more to the national gross domestic product (GDP, or value-added) than commercial landings.
- The recreational sector added $152.24 in value-added, or GDP, for one pound of fish landed, compared to the commercial sector’s $1.57 for a single pound of fish.
- Within the jobs market, the recreational sector made up fifty-four percent of all jobs, both recreational and commercial. This amounts to 455,000 recreational jobs compared to 381,000 on the commercial side.
- For every 100,000 pounds landed there were 210 recreational fishing jobs but only 4.5 jobs in the commercial fishing industry.
“We’re not releasing this report in an effort to demean commercial fishing,” Nussman added. “Commercial fishing is very important to our nation’s economy.
“Our goal is to highlight the importance of recreational fishing to the nation. As our coastal populations continue to grow, along with saltwater recreational fishing, significant improvements must be made to shape the nation’s federal fisheries system in a way that recognizes and responds to the needs of the recreational fishing community.”
The executive summary and full report are available here.