FISHING IN AMERICA - THE FUTURE
Welcome to the final article in our series on Fishing in America. In our previous articles, we’ve discussed the history of fishing and how it has progressed in the United States, the economic benefits of such a thriving industry, and the effects of industrial and recreational fishing on conservation efforts. Hopefully you have enjoyed them thus far. If you have not gotten a chance to read them we encourage you to do so here.
As previously mentioned, 33 million people over the age of 16 fish each year. Today we will be discussing the other side of the age barrier. In 2006, a survey suggested that over 8.4 million people under the age of 16 go fishing (1). This is over 25% of all other age brackets combined, with a significantly smaller span considered. This means the overall participators in the fishing industry will grow enormously as the next generation comes of age. If we can protect it from the malicious attacks of animal rights organizations, fishing has an extremely promising future.
A truly impressive part of recreational fishing is the technological advancements that it has seen over the past few years. Devoted U.S. anglers have created some of the most revolutionary fishing equipment in the world, increasing the ease and efficiency of catching fish to the point that “anyone can do it.”
Boats – It seems that every type of fishing boat is constantly getting upgraded for better performance. Industrial fishing boats are converting to single line casting systems with cleaner emissions to lessen their environmental impact. Personal boats for recreational fishing are striving for safer and more comfortable rides than ever before. Boats, since the invention of the first canoe, have been a huge tool for increased efficiency. As time goes on, these advancements will continue to make a huge difference in how we fish.
Fish Finders – Arguably one of the best advancements in fishing technology, the fish finder, is sure to increase the likelihood of a better catch. Modern fish finders use transducers, flashers, echoes, and sonar to track the fish in your local lake or pond. Practically all you have to do is drop a line and wait. The fish finders use transducers to send out single, dual, or multiple frequency cones to tell you just what is under you. The beautiful displays then tell you when it is appropriate to start fishing and catching.
Reels – Fishing being an enormous part of outdoor recreation in America, one technology we will always rely on is the reel. It is how we cast our line and pull in catches, and the innovation that has gone into these seemingly simple tools make them a wonder. A single fisherman could spend hundreds of dollars finding the perfect fit of reel for him, and that investment is not something that you regret.
Fishing as an industry has the possibility to impact so much in America. Opportunities are increasing to create jobs while providing vital resources and meeting the needs of Americans. Seeing that over 20% of fish caught by U.S. fishermen were used for products other than food, the market for fish is rapidly growing. This shows the need for further expansion of the industry. The applications far outstretch conventional conceptions of fish use, and with each passing year individuals come up with some new way to use fish products. Fish are no longer just used for food and sport, but also the production of other needed materials.
This brings us to the amazing opportunities that the industry has for expansion. Over 90% of U.S. seafood consumption is filled by overseas suppliers. This means that U.S. fishermen can produce more and seize the market, and they are right on the edge of doing just that. Their percentage of the market looks lower than it actually is because often American fishermen will send their catches overseas to be processed before being re-imported for sale.
Another door is opened when considering this as well. We can make processing centers in the U.S. and create even more jobs. This would not only lower the price because they are being produced closer to home, but the fish will also avoid double tariffs and fewer will go bad in transit.
Opportunities are endless and all doors are open when it comes to the future of U.S. fishing, both recreationally and as an industry. Sales should continue to increase as demand rises both for food and other products. To provide for this high demand, and best help the U.S. economy, we will need to carefully track populations. This could possibly lead to the opening of more hatcheries, fisheries, and stocking facilities that will only provide more jobs and keep pushing America forward.
The only tangible threats to the industry, disregarding the possible negative ramifications of radical animal rights organizations who intend to end fishing, are those who fish too much or illegally in international waters. These individuals, who do not follow conventional fishing regulations that are put in place to control populations, are estimated to cost the global market up to $23.5 billion annually.
However, the U.S. is leading the world in a new way to stop illegal fishing that threatens the future of the industry. We have recently announced a plan in March of this year that would enforce stronger measures by the United States Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement officers at the nation’s ports to identify illegal fishing (2). They are taking leaps forward in food safety and industry protection by ensuring the legal fishing of the world’s waters, which will only help advance the fishing even further and safeguard its great future.
So what does the future of fishing look like in America? Well, it looks pretty good from where we are sitting, as long as we can win the public opinion and legislative battles that groups like PETA and HSUS have begun. The fishing industry has naturally set itself up for success and being a part of American tradition should help keep a healthy supply of fishermen for future generations.
The evolution of fishing will be particularly interesting to watch over the coming years. American heritage lives on in the hearts of our nation’s anglers. We need fishing for food, conservation, economic stimulus, and (of course) fun.
Who is willing to help protect this tradition alongside us?
Thank you for following this four part series on Fishing in America. We would appreciate any feedback that you have to offer in the comment section below!
1. Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy. A force as big as all outdoors 2006