Welcome to Fishing in America. Today, in the second of our four part series, we look at the economic impact of fishing in the United States. Both recreational and fishing for food production are huge facets of the American economy. Combined, the jobs they create and the revenue they bring to the table are too large to be ignored. Fishing leaves a direct or indirect footprint on every American’s life, whether they know it or not.
Fishing is one of the most popular types of recreation. As mentioned in Part 1, over 33 million U.S. adults participate in the activity each year (1). These angling enthusiasts then invest in equipment, licenses, trips and other fishing-related items or events that contribute over $48 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Adding fishing as a food producing industry increases that number to well over $90 billion – more than the net worth of major companies such as Pfizer and Sony!
Every angler, through the purchase of items needed for fishing endeavors, pours money into local economies. Through licenses, rods, bait, tack, boats, lake houses and fishing trips, they are providing the revenue for many small towns to survive. The continuation of this revenue stream is imperative to the survival of rural America.
Each individual who is involved with fishing, in both sectors, makes a huge impact on the U.S. economy. This money provides jobs for families who need them, 1.5 million in America, and even has a huge impact on conservation efforts (2). Fishery programs alone have an economic impact that translates to an average of 5,692 local jobs (3). The wages, supplies, and services rendered at fishery facilities truly make a difference in towns across the country.
How can someone ignore this huge significance, and the good that fishing is causing throughout America? Somehow, radical animal rights activists find a way. Despite the fishing industry’s employment of slightly more people than Walmart in the U.S., groups like PETA and HSUS take up arms against it.
Many anglers might be surprised to hear this. How could animal rights activists be against the fishing industry when most fish are released back after they are caught? One statistic from A Statistical Snapshot of 2012 Fish Landings shows that in the 70 million fishing trips that Americans went on 380 million fish were caught, 228 million of which were released.
Many activists wish to demolish a thriving industry because of misguided notions that fish feel a level of physiological shock that is comparable to humans or other advanced species. The problem is that not only are these ideas inaccurate, they would ultimately damage conservation efforts that are funded by the industry.
We cannot jeopardize what has grown to be a huge economic influence in America simply because of animal rights-funded research that is suspicious at best. We must use common sense to see past the smokescreen of misinformation put up by those who seek an end to fishing activities in this country.
The statistics about catch-and-release fishing, however, are just for recreational fishing. Millions of fish are harvested each year through fishing as a food producing industry. It is important to note that these fish are not used for sport, but for human sustenance.
The U.S. is the world’s third largest consumer of seafood, after China and Japan. Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds of seafood in 2012. This food source provides nourishment for so many through vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and D, zinc, iodine, potassium, and protein. All of these are essential for a well-balanced diet.
Millions rely on the fishing industry to keep the market full so that they can purchase relatively cheap seafood for their families. If we eliminate fishing, we not only eliminate American tradition, we also harm thousands of families that already suffer from poor economic conditions.
Fishing is important for local economies, conservation and food production. It is essential that committed individuals stand up to protect this indispensable American activity.
Wildlife is very susceptible to change, but needs stability more than anything else. It is not radical animal rights organizations that stop overpopulation and provide the funding to keep habitats intact. Wildlife needs hunters and fishers. We need them as well.
It is time to cut through the rhetoric and provide solid facts explaining the importance of American industry and culture, especially pertaining to its economic influence. Our anglers need help if we want fishing to survive. It is time to provide that help and guarantee the bright future that we all know fishing can have, because it will benefit all of us in return.
1. American Sportfishing Association, January 2013
3. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Net Worth, The Economic Value of Fisheries Conservation. Fall 2011