The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has published its annual report, Fisheries Economics of the United States 2011 (the 2-year lag allows for data collection, analysis, and peer review). It provides economic statistics on U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries and marine-related businesses for each coastal state and the nation.

Key to the report are the economic effects—jobs, sales, income, and value added to the Gross National Product—of the commercial and recreational fishing industries. “Economic impact” measures how sales in each sector ripple throughout the state and national economy as each dollar spent generates additional sales by other firms and consumers.

Overall, U.S. recreational fishing generated $70 billion in sales impacts, $20 billion in income impacts, and supported 455,000 jobs in 2011. Compared to 2010, the numbers are up for all of these impacts except commercial seafood sales.

Here are some key findings specific to the New England region:

  • Photo/BoatingLocal

    An average of 1.4 million anglers (1.3 million in 2011) fished in New England annually from 2002 to 2011.

  • In 2011, coastal county residents made up 90% of total anglers in this region. These anglers averaged 88% of total anglers annually from 2002 to 2011.
  • The largest annual increase in the number of coastal anglers from 2002 to 2011 occurred between 2004 and 2005, increasing 17%, from 1.2 million anglers to 1.3 million anglers.
  • The largest annual decrease during the same period
  • for coastal anglers occurred between 2010 and 2011, decreasing 12%, from 1.3 million anglers to 1.2 million anglers.

Fishing Trips:

  • In New England, an average of 8.3 million fishing trips were taken annually from 2002 to 2011. Roughly 6.1 million trips were made in 2011.
  • Private or rental boat and shore-based fishing trips accounted for 3.2 million and 2.5 million fishing trips, respectively, in 2011. Together these made up 94% of trips taken in that year.
  • The largest annual increase in the number of total trips taken from 2002 to 2011 occurred between 2004 and 2005, increasing 6.5%, from 8.6 million trips to 9.2 million trips.
  • The largest annual decrease during the same period in total trips taken occurred between 2008 and 2009, decreasing 22%, from 9.1 million trips to 7.2 million trips.

Harvest vs. Release:

  • Striped bass was the most commonly caught key species or species group, averaging 7.8 million fish over the 10-year period. Of these, 92% were released rather than harvested.
  • Of the 10 commonly caught key species or species groups, 7 were released more often than harvested over this period.
  • The species or species group that was most commonly released was false albacore (94% released).
  • Atlantic mackerel (91% harvested), followed by winter flounder (60% harvested), and bluefin tuna (55% harvested) were key species or groups that experienced the greatest proportion of harvests rather than releases.

Economic Impacts:

  • The contribution of recreational fishing activities in the New England Region are reported in terms of economic impacts at the state level (employment, sales, income, and value added impacts) and expenditures on fishing trips and durable equipment at the regional level. Employment impacts in Massachusetts were the highest in the region with over 5,320 full- and part-time jobs generated by recreational fishing activities in the state. Rhode Island (1,300 jobs), and Connecticut (909 jobs), followed in terms of employment impacts.
  • Overall, these employment impacts were generated by expenditures on recreational fishing trips taken by anglers (private or rental boat, for-hire boat, or shore-based trips) or expenditures on durable equipment. Throughout the New England Region, expenditures on durable equipment in 2011 generated more employment impacts than any other expenditure: 69% in Rhode Island, 64% in Connecticut, and 62% in Maine.
  • In addition to jobs, the contribution of recreational fishing activities to the New England economy can be measured in terms of sales impacts and the contribution of these activities to gross domestic product (value added impacts). In 2011, sales impacts were the highest in Massachusetts ($726 million in sales impacts), followed by Rhode Island ($157 million), Connecticut ($129 million), Maine ($77 million), and New Hampshire ($41 million). In the same year, value added impacts were the highest in Massachusetts ($391 million in value added impacts), followed by Connecticut ($76 million), Rhode Island ($74 million), Maine ($39 million), and New Hampshire ($23 million).
  • Overall, there were $1.2 billion in expenditures on fishing-trip and durable-equipment expenditures across New England in 2011. Approximately 74% of these expenditures were durable equipment purchases. The greatest expenditures were for boat expenses ($461 million), followed by fishing tackle ($236 million), vehicle expenses ($111 million), other equipment ($50 million), and second home expenses ($2 million). Fishing trip expenditures by New England’s non-residents totaled almost $126 million, of which the greatest portion can be attributed to for-hire-based fishing trips ($56 million). Residents of New England spent $178 million on saltwater fishing trips, with the most of these expenses related to private-boat trips ($107 million).
  • The 6.1 million fishing trips taken by recreational anglers in New England in 2011 represents a 30% decrease from the 2002 (8.6 million trips) and was 1.2 million fewer trips than those taken in 2010.
  • Approximately 52% of the saltwater trips were private or rental boat based (3.2 million trips). The other most popular mode of fishing was shore-based with 2.5 million trips in 2011.
  • The species and species groups caught most frequently in 2011 were Atlantic mackerel (5.9 million fish), scup (4.7 million fish), bluefish (2.6 million fish), and striped bass (2.5 million fish) in 2011. False albacore (100% released), tautog (83% released), summer flounder (82% released), striped bass (82% released), bluefish (75% released), bluefin tuna (71% released), Atlantic cod (63% released), and scup (51% released) were more often released rather than harvested.
  • Anglers harvested more often than released Atlantic mackerel (91% harvested) and winter flounder (63% harvested).
  • In 2011, most of the striped bass were caught in Massachusetts (1.2 million fish) and Connecticut (676,000), making up 76% of the total catch.
  • Atlantic mackerel were caught in large numbers in Maine and New Hampshire, which represented 71% of the total catch of Atlantic mackerel in the New England Region. Between 2002 and 2011, eight of the New England Region’s key species or species groups showed decreases in catch totals. Key species or groups with the largest decreases were striped bass (73%), tautog (49%), and summer flounder (24%).

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