According to the American Sportfishing Association, more than 49 million people go fishing in the U.S. every year. Fishing is much more than just one of the most popular hobbies in the U.S., it is an important economic force across the country. Anglers spend $49.8 billion at fishing retailers every year. However, this direct spending is only a portion of their overall economic impact.
Who They Are
The American Sportfishing Association is the largest sportfishing trade association in the world, and they advocate on behalf of the recreational fishing industry and for conservation. They partnered with Southwick Associates to take data like spending information and fishing license statistics to quantify the upstream economic effects generated by their industry’s activities using IMPLAN. The ASA engages in large-scale advocacy efforts each year, and comprehensive economic impact reporting is a critical piece of their advocacy toolkit.
What They Wanted to Know
A contribution analysis completed with IMPLAN demonstrated that recreational fishing activities contributed $125 billion nationally. This figure alone is eye-popping, however the ASA was interested in capturing statewide and Congressional district impacts. The advocacy group took angler numbers and spending estimates across 9 U.S Census Divisions from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (FHWAR) and fishing license statistics from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to inform statewide and Congressional district inputs. With IMPLAN, they were able to quantify the total economic value, labor income, jobs supported, and tax revenue (Federal and State/Local) in each state and Congressional district.
Selection of Economic Impacts by State*
||Number of Anglers
||State & Local Tax
*Economic impact analyses were performed for all states and Congressional districts. Complete figures can be found here.
How They Leveraged What They Discovered
With this granular insight realized, the ASA was equipped with a powerful tool for mobilizing their membership to advocate their industry impact and communicate with legislators in a resonant manner. For the ASA, this meant advocating in support of the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018 (The Modern Fish Act). The bill aimed to officially establish differences between recreational and commercial fishing and provide improved management tools for recreational fishing. While this legislation had been introduced without success in several previous Congressional sessions, a coalition of supporters—including the Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and more—formed and mobilized to garner support for the bill.
The ASA equipped their advocacy toolkit with economic impact data from IMPLAN. Data from their economic contribution report was used to inform infographic handouts prepared for every state and Congressional district. Each handout was accessible from the ASA’s website and consisted of data from the designated legislators district.
The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Garrett Graves (LA-6) and featured bi-partisan co-sponsors from both coastal and landlocked states. After passing the Senate unanimously and the House overwhelmly (350-17), the Modern Fish Act was signed into law on 12/31/2018.
The push by the ASA, their member advocates, and their broader coalition of partners led to the passage of milestone legislation for recreational fishing. The impact data exemplified to all legislators how supporting recreational fisheries was not only critical for sport, but also for the economy. By demonstrating the economic importance of the industry in each member’s district, the ASA presented an argument that was certain to resonate with lawmakers. Using IMPLAN, the ASA translated local economic impacts into national policymaking.