NOAA Fisheries Study Reveals $10.5 Billion Economic Impact from Marine Recreational Fishing Trips

June 11, 2020

Washington, D.C. – June 11, 2020 – NOAA Fisheries confirms marine recreational fishing is a far greater economic force in the United States than their previous evaluations had indicated. In their report, 2017 Economic Contribution of Marine Angler Expenditures on Fishing Trips in the United States, the federal agency shows angler trip expenditures totaled $10.5 billion nationwide, more than double the $4.3 billion in expenditures from the 2016 report. The massive increase in the recreational angling economic footprint is mostly attributed to the new Marine Recreational Information Program revealing far more angler trips than previous estimates.

“The recreational angling community has long believed that NOAA Fisheries was significantly under-estimating the economic vitality of saltwater recreational angling and this latest report is at last a vindication of that,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “It has been apparent that NOAA doesn’t have true grasp of all the information needed to make informed decisions on the proper management of our marine resources. There are still significant pieces missing from the economic realities of saltwater angling that will paint a still more robust picture, but this data speaking so loudly is an encouraging sign that our arguments are finally being heard.”

The report further states that saltwater angler trips contributed:

  • 167,000 jobs (up from 66,000 in 2016)
  • $24 billion in total sales (up from $10 billion in 2016)
  • $14 billion in value added to GDP (up from $5.1 billion in 2016)
  • $7.9 billion in income to the economy (up from $3.1 billion in 2016)

“Not only has the number of angler trips gone up, but the base expenditure per trip has finally been updated as well. The end result is that NOAA Fisheries is finally acknowledging that saltwater recreational fishing is an economic heavyweight,” said Angers. “We are excited that we are finally getting the information necessary for the federal fisheries management system to recognize the social and economic impacts of recreational fishing.”

CSP has led the recreational angling community in recent years calling for NOAA Fisheries to provide a more modern management and inclusive evaluation of recreational angling economics, and for those results to be compared against commercial harvest of marine resources on an apples-to-apples basis.

“These new figures are certainly more of an accurate reflection of reality, but we are still working on the more difficult part of the equation and that is convincing NOAA Fisheries to make management decisions based on this type of information,” said Pat Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “When you remove seafood imports and fisheries in which recreational anglers don’t even participate like Alaskan pollock and king crab, recreational angling’s economic footprint dwarfs that of industrial fishing. That should be a huge factor in the federal management of the nation’s fisheries.”

“As more and more government agencies study the economic impact of recreational boating and fishing, one theme from the findings is clear and consistent in every report: these cherished American pastimes are significant contributors to our economy,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Thanks to this new study we have more to celebrate during this year’s National Fishing and Boating Week and we expect this trend to continue in the years to come as more Americans flock to boating and fishing.”

“Recreational fishing has always been a key activity of boaters, and fishing is a great way to enjoy time with friends and family,” said Chris Edmonston, vice president of government affairs for BoatU.S. “We encourage NOAA Fisheries to continue working with the recreational fishing community to improve data collection methods. Accurate data promotes conservation and appropriate allocation of America’s public marine resources, ensuring there are fish to catch for generations to come.”

NOAA Fisheries surveyed recreational fishermen from 2016-2017 in each coastal state using in-person interviews, mail, or a mixed web/mail mode. Marine recreational fishing was defined as fishing for finfish in the open ocean or any body of water that is marine or brackish for sport or pleasure and includes for-hire charter fishing, fishing from a private boat, and shore fishing.

National Fishing and Boating Week runs June 6 – 13, 2020, and highlights the economic, social and cultural importance of recreational fishing and boating in America. Many states offer free fishing days this week where anglers can enjoy all the benefits of fishing without a fishing license, but more importantly, it is a great opportunity to introduce new participants to the sport.

On June 8, NOAA Fisheries released saltwater recreational fisheries regional snapshots which can be found here, Total economic impacts are further broken down by state and the full report can be found at