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Alexandria, Virginia - Despite competition from video games and other similar activities and increased urbanization, recreational angling remains one of the largest outdoor recreational activities in the nation as well as one of the most solid industries in the United States. Annually, nearly 40 million anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation's economy creating employment for over one million people.

 

The latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), however, does show a decline in angling participation over the past 5 years with the steepest falloff among Great Lakes anglers. Despite a decline in participation, tackle sales increased by $250 million over the past five years. The USFWS conducts its survey every five years with the latest survey conducted in 2006.

 

"Although fishing remains one of the most popular outdoor sports in the country, the sportfishing industry is clearly concerned about the numbers being reported in the survey," said American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman. "However, what these numbers say to us is that our industry is feeling the effects of our society's rapidly growing disconnect with the outdoors and the lack of easy access to fishing. We, along with the boating industry, are taking steps to turn this situation around."

 

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) established through the efforts of the sportfishing and boating industry and state fish and wildlife agencies, is taking steps to halt the long-term decline through new and innovative marketing and education campaigns aimed at both novice and avid anglers. The Future Fisherman Foundation, the angler education arm of the sportfishing industry, is successfully working within school systems across the county through its Physh Ed program to provide grants to physical education teachers to instruct students in fishing and boating.

 

Nussman further said, "RBFF and the fishing and boating industries are teaming to create a nationwide advertising campaign aimed at getting adults and children out their front doors and onto the water. If we don't teach our children about the wonders and beauty of nature through a day spent fishing and boating, who will?"

 

Ultimately, anglers and other sportsmen are the most significant funding source for conservation and recreation in this country. Through the purchase of fishing licenses and special excise taxes on gear and motorboat fuel, hundreds of millions of anglers' dollars each year are collected or funneled to states for conservation and recreation. Angler participation and the equipment and fishing licenses they purchase are crucial to conservation management in the United States. In 2007, $350 million of these excise taxes were provided to state fish and wildlife agencies to restore fisheries and promote fishing. In addition, fishing license sales generated nearly $560 million more in revenues.

 

Other interesting statistics on sportfishing include:

 

The three states with the most anglers are Florida (2.77 million), Texas (2.52 million) and California (1.73 million).

 

The top three states in terms of jobs supported by sportfishing are Florida (75,100), Texas (59,000) and Minnesota (43,100).

 

The number of anglers is greater than the population of California.

 

One out of every three anglers fish for largemouth bass, America's most popular game fish. Flounder is the most-targeted saltwater fish.

 

One of every 7 people fished in 2006, making it more popular than jogging or golf.

 

Forty-five percent of anglers come from cities of one million or more people.

 

Fifty-one percent of anglers have a household income greater than $50,000 per year and 17 percent have incomes in excess of $100,000 per year.

 

Over half of all anglers have attended college.

 

Twenty-five percent of anglers are women.

 

Nearly half of all anglers are between 35-54 years of age.

 

The fishing statistics provided above were compiled by Southwick Associates, www.southwickassociates.com

 

Media Contact:

Mary Jane Williamson, American Sportfishing Association (703) 519-9691, x227 or mjwilliamson@asafishing.org

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The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) established through the efforts of the sportfishing and boating industry and state fish and wildlife agencies, is taking steps to halt the long-term decline through new and innovative marketing and education campaigns aimed at both novice and avid anglers. The Future Fisherman Foundation, the angler education arm of the sportfishing industry, is successfully working within school systems across the county through its Phys Ed program to provide grants to physical education teachers to instruct students in fishing and boating.

Now that there is a huge step.

That is just the kind of innovative approach this sport needs.

 

Why does the sport need further promoting?

 

Well, it isn't so that you will have somebody standing next to you each and every day in your favorite fishing spot-

It is because there needs to be more people standing up for things like access and cleaner water.

If we don't show we care, our kids most certainly won't either.

 

The minute we choose to keep the sport quiet, that's when your legislators will decide we no longer need public access and State Parks.

That is when our elected officials will figure we've been beaten back while raising allowable TMDL's and relaxing permit requirements.

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It says,

 

"The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) established through the efforts of the sportfishing and boating industry and state fish and wildlife agencies, is taking steps to halt the long-term decline through new and innovative marketing and education campaigns aimed at both novice and avid anglers. The Future Fisherman Foundation, the angler education arm of the sportfishing industry, is successfully working within school systems across the county through its Physh Ed program to provide grants to physical education teachers to instruct students in fishing and boating."

 

Are they alarmed by a decline in numbers of fishermen or by a potential decline in sales? When it comes to this question of the number of fishermen, I am with the Marines. That is I, like their slogan,"The Marines need a few good men." Though they have never been the most populous branch of the armed forces, they accomplish their mission. They do not get into the numbers game.

 

By analogy, I say, "The ISA needs a few good fisherman." Unlike the RBFF, I do not want everyone to buy a fishing rod and a boat. Quality suffers when sheer numbers is the primary goal. My point is that a disciplined focused organization gets the job done. ISA, TU, Muskies Unlimited, and FFF are fair examples of what I mean. Each one has a focus around a specific point to keep them on track. On the other hand, I think an IFA (Illinois Fishers' Association) would be an unwieldy and inefficient organization.

 

I believe in educating the ones who are on board already before recruiting a whole bunch more to overtax or abuse our waters. The goal of quality fishers on quality waters comes to mind. If that were to be achieved, the numbers would naturally follow.

 

I am sorrry, when I see a comercial interrest like the RBFF, I become leery. Does their interest extend beyond selling the rod or boat? Do they really care how the equipment will be used? Or even if it will be used? Recent reports on the level of expertice displayed by the help at the new Cabelas in Hoffman Estates leave me wondering. I suppose they will throw in some token seminars periodically. I just do not see a day to day commitment.

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Mike, some of what you describe, the commercial interest in growth, is a fact of life but not necessarily a bad thing. Isa has its place and perspective & industry groups have theirs. the desirable goal is to support common cause such as promoting fishing when possible or we will not have a future audience to bring to the next level of appreciation. Even if sales are a prime motivation for the recreational equipment industry they can have a positive effect in spreading the word and getting young people to notice outdoor activies. We need to resist the urge to not support common goals and continue to do what we do.

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Allow me to also point out the obvious:

FEDERAL AID IN SPORT FISH RESTORATION ACT

 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources receives monies by the Federal aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 (Dingell-Johnson Act). This money is received as 75% reimbursement on approved projects. This Act imposed a manufacturer's excise tax on fishing rods, reels, creels and artificial lures. The Act also protects angler's license fees by prohibiting their diversion to other than approved purposes. In 1984, the Wallop-Breaux Amendment of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act(D-J) was passed and allowed for expansion of the tax base to include essentially all items of fishing tackle, electric ttrolling motors and "flasher" type fish finders (sonar devices), motorboat fuel taxes, and import duties on fishing tackle and boats.Again in 1990, the Fund was increased by an additional increase int the federal excise tax on gasoline, and also the deposit of the federal tax on gasoline from small non-highway engines into the fund. This Sport Fish Restoration Program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the states.

 

Funds may be used for almost any type of sport fishery, restoration, management, or enhancement project. The 1984 Wallup-Breaux amendment mandated that each state must spend at least 10% for boat access projects and allowed each state to use up to 10% of its apportionment for aquatic resources education. The required 10% to be spent for boating improvements was increased to 12.5% in 1992, and 15% in 1998. The Aquatic Resources Education allowance was increased to 15% in 1998.

 

An annual apportionment of these monies is made availabel to each state. Forty percent of this amount is based on the state's land and water area in relation to the total land water of the U.S. Sixty percent of this amount is based on the number of paid sport fishing license holders in each state in relation to all the paid fishing license holders in the U.S.

 

The 2003 apportionment of Sport Fish Restoration Program monies to Illinois was $5,336,662. This was used by the Department for fisheries management of state and public waters, fish production and stocking, federal aid coordination; for state Universities and research agencies to conduct investigations throughout the State to manage the fisheries resources in our streams, boundary rivers, impoundments, reservoirs and Lake Michigan; and for boat access improvements.

 

The future of sport fishing in Illinois has been greatly enhanced thanks to Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux.

 

The ISA, those other groups mentioned and local organizations in general can in no way match that kind of money on their own.

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boat sales may be down but kayak, and canoe sales are way up.if kids and families spend more time on the water ,it is onlyfair to think they may pick up a fishing rod down the line . rich

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Yes, but by supporting a group like FFF, and their agenda, you are still supporting the promoting of our sport to more potential anglers.

Did I read that right?

 

No.

 

IMHO, "more" is the culprit. We do not need nore; we need better.

 

PS. You mentioned FFF. Nothing should be construed as a criticism of them or TU, DU, MU, etc., etc., etc. They pursue goals in line with what I am saying. We do not need more; we need better.

 

PM me if this is not clear.

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Mike G, what goal are you articulating here? Having a few good men and women is better than having a lot of average ones.

Better what?Better fishermen and women. Besides having the mechanics of fishing down, these folks should have the basics of sportsmanship down.

Commitment to what? This is in reference to the Cabela value system as shown by their choice of retail staff in Hoffman Estates. I am not surprised to hear that they are commercial in their approach. That is, they seem to be paying retail scale for retail clerks. If they were committed to outdoor sports, we would see more experts on site day to day even though this would cost more. Elsewhere I mentioned that a few free seminars does not make up for day to day mediocre staffing.

 

I do not blame these "big box" outdoor outlets for going for the $$$. It is their nature. I do miss the little guys that know their gear and take the time to tell you how to use it. They are few and far between. To repeat the refrain in a different mode, we need a few good shops to promote the sport. What we have are these soulless "big box" retail outlets.

 

My short list of good shops once had 8 entries. 5 have closed.

 

The three remaining are One More Cast, Salmon Shop (Palatine), and GAT.

 

I hope there are others. :(

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Great points, Mike G regarding the big box stores.

There are a few that I've found to have decent staff while I was there, but by and large have gotten pissed off to the point of leaving and going to Wally World.

Tried stocking up for a kids derby a few years ago at one and had nothing but major problems.

Left the cart full, walked out and found myself driving another 10 miles at 10:00 at night for the convenience of Wal-Mart.

This, because there was no mom-and-pop shop anywhere near me.

They closed down, and we know the reasons why.

 

I will still disagree on one of your points, and it is that of:

Having a few good men and women is better than having a lot of average ones.

While it sounds good on the surface, it does not and cannot ever work this way.

Each and every angler is a voice in the wilderness, so to speak.

Governmental agencies do not differentiate between an average fisherman or a great one.

Slash the numbers (or fail to promote the sport to ALL), and they slash the funding.

People who have never fished before in their lives will look at a dam on an already imperiled waterway and think it is "wilderness and waterfalls" in their back yards.

Most people have no conception of the importance of clean drinking water and a sustainable environment. It is these people we need to reach out to and somehow draw them over to our side.

Fishing does that.

 

When there are wetlands to be ripped out, we'd like them to stand with us, not the developer.

When there is a fish kill, we'd like them to take notice and make the phone call.

Should I go on?

There is much more to all of this than good sportsmanship.

A dozen guys releasing a thousand fish a day will get you more little smallies next year, but who is looking out for the reason these fish are ABLE to spawn next year?

Siltation and other pollution do not cease to exist by catch and release.

 

But you seem to be saying that they need to be educated in order to become "better" rather than average.

That's what we are here for.

I am very optimistic in this regard, as we have really started drawing parents out to fish with their kids with the efforts of our youth program.

Many of these parents had never taken their kids fishing.....ever.

We know this because they tell us, and we ask.

Can we turn it around by ourselves?

Of course we can't.

Of the over 400 members we have here, 22 took the time to participate in one or more youth events this year.

That is a very small percentage, though the dedication among that group was very strong.

 

All of this just goes to show that we have much work to do, and cuts to the very core of my beliefs on this subject.

It all starts at the stream's edge with you, me and the guy standing next to you or in the next hole downstream. The very essence of "grass roots" in every sense of the word.

Recruitment one angler at a time or 100 at a time.

Makes no difference to me, as long as the process keeps moving.

It isn't going to happen overnight, so all we can do is keep working and trying to educate as many as we can with the resources we have.

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