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Feature Report: Fishing In America

SURVEY SAYS: Sportfishing in America - More robust than ever

Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Jan 15, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, VA — A recession, the collapse of the boating industry four years ago, marine closures and tightening of regulations would all seem to be bad news for the sportfishing business. Yes, for manufacturers and retailers. But there is a silver lining.

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, officials from the American Sportfishing Association reported last week. True, business is still tough on the high end of travel and purchases, but more Americans than ever are enjoying fishing as a recreation.   

According to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation America’s anglers generate over $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.

The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is released every five years and provides a “snapshot in time” of recreational fishing in the United States.

The survey results about recreational fishing are summarized in Sportfishing in America which is compiled by Southwick Associates. Some highlights to keep you warm in the winter.

— Since 2006, angler numbers grew 11 percent.
— There are approximately 60 million anglers in the U.S. of which 46 million are estimated to fish in a given year.
— One of every four anglers fishes in saltwater.
— Fishing tackle sales grew over 16 percent in the past five years.
— More Americans fish than play golf (21 million) and tennis (13 million) combined.
— If fishing were a company, the amount spent by anglers to support fishing-related retail sales would rank number 51 on the Fortune 500™ list.
— Fishing generated more revenue ($48 billion) than Lockheed Martin ($47 billion), Intel ($44 billion), Chrysler ($42 billion) or Google ($38 billion).
— The economic activity generated by sportfishing is greater than the economy, measured in Gross State Product, of 17 states.
— At more than 46 million anglers, more than twice the number of people fished in 2011 than attended every NFL game combined.

You can learn more about the survey at: and

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