Happy National Fishing and Boating Week! I am thrilled to be highlighting the many ways we collaborate with and support the recreational fishing community as well as the passion our NOAA Fisheries staff have for recreational fishing as well.
Sustainable fisheries are the foundation of thriving fishing communities, healthy marine ecosystems, and a strong economy. Marine recreational fishing is a cherished American pastime and draws millions of anglers to support our coastal communities every year. Thank you to everyone who participates in the sport and contributes to the positive social and economic impacts of sustainable recreational fishing.
According to our Fisheries of the United States 2020 report, U.S. recreational anglers took nearly 200 million trips in 2020. These recreational anglers caught an estimated 1 billion fish and released 65 percent of those caught.
One of my most memorable experiences thus far as Assistant Administrator was the 2022 National Recreational Fisheries Summit. This event brought together representatives from all areas of the United states and all sectors of the recreational fishing community. There were two days of open and honest discussions about issues impacting recreational fishing. I commend all who participated in person or virtually in this event and I wanted to share a few of my takeaways.
First, climate change will continue to impact our oceans and marine ecosystems. Participants made it very clear that NOAA and NOAA Fisheries need to be leaders in the climate change discussion. We need to work with our partners to develop guidance on how to best deal with the management of fish stocks whose populations are affected by climate change and warming oceans. We will all have to continue working together to ensure our fisheries management decisions incorporate and address the impacts of climate change on our marine ecosystems.
Second, recreational data was a high profile topic at the Summit. I am committed to working with the recreational fishing community to improve our recreational fishing data. Many recent publications highlight the potential value of voluntary or mandatory electronic reporting for recreational fisheries. The latest of these was the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee Recreational Electronic Reporting Task Force, “Critical Considerations for Implementing Electronic Reporting Methods in Recreational Fisheries”. I am confident we can use technology to supplement our legacy data collection systems. We need to continue to explore the ways to best use angler experience and knowledge to improve our decision making.
Finally, the Summit emphasized the importance of partnerships in keeping our marine fisheries and environments sustainable. The 2022 Summit was co-hosted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the Gulf and Pacific Marine Fisheries Commissions played important roles. Every regional fishery management council, as well as many coastal state resource agencies, were represented at the Summit by staff or council members. It gives me great confidence to know that they heard the same things from the recreational community that I did at the Summit.
I hope everyone takes time over the next week to get outside and enjoy some fishing and boating and celebrate the sustainable fishing opportunities NOAA Fisheries and our partners work to provide. I know and appreciate that recreational anglers are committed to conservation, science and supporting healthy ecosystems. Please join me in celebrating National Fishing and Boating Week 2022 with the millions of recreational anglers across the country.
Assistant Administrator, NOAA Fisheries