The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released the annual edition of Fisheries Economics of the United States for 2011, highlighting the economic impact of both recreational and commercial fishing.  In 2011, 11 million recreational anglers took 70 million saltwater fishing trips and generated $70 billion in sales impacts, $32 billion in value added impacts, and supported over 455,000 jobs nationally.

Taking a further look at the expenditures of U.S. anglers in 2011, a total of $4.5 billion in angler expenditures were related specifically to fishing trips with $2 billion of this for private boat-based fishing trips. Shore-based fishing trips generated $1.5 billion and for-hire-based fishing trips brought in $1 billion. The angler expenditures on fishing-related equipment for 2011 totaled over $22 billion with most related to boat expenses ($11 billion). Other major expenditures incurred by anglers included vehicle expenses ($4.1 billion), fishing tackle ($3.8 billion) and second home expenses ($2.1 billion).

This is great news for the recreational fishing industry because of the rise seen between 2010 and 2011, especially in the Southeast portion of the United States (South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regions) where recreational fishing is economically important and a large driver of tourism. In 2011, around 70% of all recreational fishing jobs in the US were occupied by fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Regions. Recreational Fishing in these two regions generated $15.9 billion in fishing trip and durable equipment expenditures with$6.1 billion and $9.8 billion in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions respectively.

In 2011, 5.5 million of the 12 million saltwater anglers nationally fished in the Southeast United with 2.3 million anglers fishing in the South Atlantic region and 3.2 million anglers fishing in Gulf of Mexico region. Anglers in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico took 20 million trips and 23 million fishing trips in 2011, respectively. The large importance of the recreational fishing industry in these regions demonstrates the importance of the fisheries and the further need for conservation efforts to ensure that fishing opportunities are available for future generations.

The Billfish Foundation knows the importance of socioeconomic studies for the recreational fishing industry and has successfully used socioeconomic studies to further conservation and influence governments to place greater importance on their recreational fishing industries. Only with an increased knowledge of the socioeconomic impacts of anglers around the world can a unified voice be created for anglers to demonstrate their importance as an industry that needs to be recognized.