Can Economists Improve Fishing?

By John Stillwagon

Can Economists Improve Fishing? The answer is YES.

Unless you are a fishing or boating industry insider, you probably didn’t hear that something pretty big happened on February 14, 2018 and no, I don’t mean Valentine’s Day.
The first ever government report on the economics of the outdoor recreation industry was released by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) – the government agency responsible for reporting on the U.S. economy.

What did they find? That the outdoor recreation industry’s annual gross output was $673 billion. To put that in perspective, that’s a bigger impact on the economy than agriculture, petroleum and coal, and computer and electronic products.

Florida-Lake-Toho. KAF photo

You might be saying, “That’s great news but what does it do for me?” Fair question.

Now that those numbers are available from an official government source, when our elected officials see the importance of outdoor recreation in their district – jobs, revenue, taxes collected, contributions made – you can bet those dollars and cents will get their attention. Should a scenario that’s unfavorable for fishing or boating be proposed, the decision-makers are going look at those economic numbers and think twice. And while these changes will help us protect what we have, it also means allocating more funding for stocking and conservation programs, new boat ramps, and more and better access to prime fishing spots.

Every year, anglers contribute $1.5 billion towards conservation. Now, our conservation and stewardship of our land and water can finally be demonstrated as part of economic development in America.

Over time, this data becomes increasingly valuable. That’s why we’re working to ensure this reporting continues into the future so that we can track trends over time and gauge how the industry is doing.

We have a strength that cannot be ignored in future policy and legislative decisions.

Fish on!

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