November 2007

Angling Retains Mainstream Appeal, Broad Economic Impact

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Despite competition from video games and other similar activities and increased urbanization, recreational angling remains one of the largest outdoor recreational activities in the nation as well as one of the most solid industries in the United States.

Annually, nearly 40 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy, creating employment for over one million people.

The latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), however, does show a decline in angling participation over the past five years with the steepest falloff among Great Lakes anglers.

Despite a decline in participation, tackle sales increased by $250 million over the past five years. The USFWS conducts its survey every five years with the latest survey conducted in 2006.

“Although fishing remains one of the most popular outdoor sports in the country, the sportfishing industry is clearly concerned about the numbers being reported in the survey,” said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman.

“However, what these numbers say to us is that our industry is feeling the effects of our society’s rapidly growing disconnect with the outdoors and the lack of easy access to fishing. We, along with the boating industry, are taking steps to turn this situation around.”

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), established through the efforts of the sportfishing and boating industry and state fish and wildlife agencies, is taking steps to halt the long-term decline through new and innovative marketing and education campaigns aimed at both novice and avid anglers.

The Future Fisherman Foundation, the angler education arm of the sportfishing industry, is successfully working within school systems across the county through its Physh Ed program to provide grants to physical education teachers to instruct students in fishing and boating.

Nussman further said, “RBFF and the fishing and boating industries are teaming to create a nationwide advertising campaign aimed at getting adults and children out their front doors and onto the water. If we don’t teach our children about the wonders and beauty of nature through a day spent fishing and boating, who will?”

Ultimately, anglers and other sportsmen are the most significant funding source for conservation and recreation in this country. Through the purchase of fishing licenses and special excise taxes on gear and motorboat fuel, hundreds of millions of anglers’ dollars each year are collected or funneled to states for conservation and recreation.

Angler participation and the equipment and fishing licenses they purchase are crucial to conservation management in the United States. In 2007, $350 million of these excise taxes were provided to state fish and wildlife agencies to restore fisheries and promote fishing. In addition, fishing license sales generated nearly $560 million more in revenues.

Other Interesting Statistics On Sportfishing

  • The three states with the most anglers are Florida (2.77 million), Texas (2.52 million) and California (1.73 million).­
  • The top three states in terms of jobs supported by sportfishing are Florida (75,100), Texas (59,000) and Minnesota (43,100).
  • The number of anglers is greater than the population of California.
  • One out of every three anglers fishes for largemouth bass, America’s most popular game fish. Flounder is the most-targeted saltwater fish.
  • One of every seven people fished in 2006, making it more popular than jogging or golf.
  • Forty-five percent of anglers come from cities of one million or more people.
  • Fifty-one percent of anglers have a household income greater than $50,000 per year, and 17 percent have incomes in excess of $100,000 per year.
  • Over half of all anglers have attended college.
  • Twenty-five percent of anglers are women.
  • Nearly half of all anglers are between 35-54 years of age.

The fishing statistics provided above were compiled by Southwick Associates,