Misguided environmental groups are increasingly calling for recreational fishermen to be denied access to the marine resource. At AFTCO we are not against science based closures. What we are against is restricting angler access without a significant proven fishery benefit to overcome the angler's personal loss and the loss to the resource and the economy. We are against closures put in place without proper data to support them and without considering the socio-economic consequences. At AFTCO, we have in the past and will continue in the future to provide both funding and leadership to prevent such misguided closures.
In the name of protecting the marine environment, environmental groups often lump anglers and their single hook and line gear into the same category as commercial fishermen and their destructive types of gear, like gillnets, bottom trawls, longlines, fish traps and more. The truth is that sportfishermen use little of the resource and yet provide not only healthy family-oriented recreational activity for the public, but significant job creation and economic activity, as well. The 13 million saltwater anglers in the U.S. generate 533,000 jobs and contribute $82.2 billion to the nation's economy. Most importantly for the marine fishery resource, this economic benefit is generated by taking only 3% of the U.S. harvest, while the commercial sector takes the other 97% and at the same time provides fewer jobs.
Those wanting to ban recreational fishing fail to point out that saltwater anglers have been and continue to be the true marine conservationists. We provide the backbone of funding for fishery resource management efforts in the states. In 2009 we contributed over $604 million for fishing license fees and an additional $700 million-plus in excise taxes on fishing tackle and motor boat fuels. Over the last half century, anglers have contributed over $30 billion to resource management. In addition, it was conservation-minded anglers who led the effort to restore redfish in the Gulf and Southeast, white seabass and halibut in California, and striped bass in the Northeast.
The ocean is a public resource and the fishing public deserves to receive the highest priority for its future use. AFTCO will continue to work toward that end and we encourage you to support and get involved with KeepAmericaFishing.org. This entity was launched on July 14, 2010 by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). For more information, go to www.keepamericafishing.org.