New report highlights recreational fishing’s broad economic impact

A new report, “Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation,” highlights how recreational fishing not only endures as an activity that permeates all social and economic aspects of Americans’ lives, but also plays a significant role in the country’s most successful fisheries conservation efforts.

The study was produced for the American Sportfishing Association, the industry’s trade association, by Southwick Associates.

According to the report, America’s anglers are estimated to spend $49.8 billion per year in retail sales associated with their sport. With a total annual economic impact of $125 billion, fishing supports more than 800,000 jobs and generates $38 billion in wages and $16 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

Substantially more than any other groups, anglers support the nation’s conservation efforts through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund Program. The excise tax on fishing gear and motorboat fuel channeled more than $600 million of anglers’ dollars to state fish and wildlife conservation and recreation programs in 2016.

“Sportfishing has a significant impact on this nation’s economy,” said ASA President Glenn Hughes. “Just by enjoying a day on the water, men, women and children across the United States pump billions of dollars into this country’s economy. In many ways, America’s anglers are the nation’s most powerful force for conserving our nation’s fisheries and waters, investing more than $1 billion dollars in fisheries management and conservation through taxes on fishing equipment and state fishing license sales.”

The new analysis is based on data from the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years on behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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In addition, this year, the outdoor recreation industry was included for the first time in the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) U.S. GDP calculations. The BEA’s report, issued in February 2018, found that the outdoor recreation sector makes up two percent of U.S. GDP and accounts for $673 billion in annual gross domestic output.

This impact exceeds that of key U.S. industries such as farming and computer manufacturing. In addition, BEA found the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.8 percent in 2016, exceeding the 2.8 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy during the same period.

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