As the father of three teenagers, I am relieved to convey that there is at least one path out of the electronic wilderness in which many of the next generation appear to be aimlessly wandering: recreational fishing.
My eldest has finally caught the fishing bug just in time for National Fishing and Boating Week 2017 (June 3-11). Gone are the days of dragging him out fishing only to hear him complain that his phone “can’t connect”--and me threatening to toss it in the water. Whether it is bass in the backyard pond, red drum in the mangroves, or Spanish mackerel off the beach, he is up and on the water.
Fishing is good for him (think natural light instead of back-lit screens), for our relationship (think conversation instead of grunts), and for conservation and the economy. License fees and certain taxes support state fisheries management, and the unceasing flow of funds from my wallet to the tackle shop contributes to roughly $63 billion in sales impacts and $36 billion in gross domestic product from saltwater recreational fishing each year. More detailed economic information can be found in the recently released report, 2015 Fisheries Economics of the United States.
In addition to these economic benefits, recreational saltwater fishing also supports almost 440,000 jobs. These impressive numbers would not be possible without healthy fish stocks benefiting from sound, science-based management. Unfortunately, sometimes lost in the din surrounding a handful of high-profile recreational fisheries is the good work of NOAA Fisheries’ dedicated staff and our management partners.
While anglers and federal managers face many genuine challenges, our work to address key recreational concerns--for example, by establishing the National Policy on Fisheries Allocation Reviews and revising Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard One Guidelines to provide appropriate additional fishing opportunity and stability--is having an effect. We are seeing more jobs related to marine recreational fishing, greater expenditures, and increased sales impacts despite the criticisms we all hear.
NOAA Fisheries’ solid commitment to addressing recreational fisheries means working closely with the recreational fishing community, and those who depend most on our shared marine resources. Creating and maintaining sustainable recreational fisheries will ensure that fishing remains a healthy, sustainable activity and source of enjoyment for millions of Americans, like me and my son, now and in the future.
National Recreational Fisheries Policy Advisor