The federal government, specifically the Department of Commerce in the case of saltwater recreational fishing, has published data for years on the economic impact of fishing.
Unfortunately and to the dismay of recreational anglers, the focus is on commercial fishing with the economic impact of our sector given little if any consideration. That will now change with the passage of and President Obama signing the Outdoor Recreational Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016.
This is a big deal, since those of us who enjoy the outdoors know that our economic impact dwarfs the commercial sector — and the commercial sector has more access to this public resource than we do. We catch a miniscule percentage of the fish, produce the economic impact and are denied access. Now the federal government and its regional councils will be hard-pressed to ignore the mass of recreational anglers.
The Gulf states have recognized this for years and started in-state seasons on a key species, red snapper. The next goal is to assign management of this and other species to the states — and all five Gulf states are on board to do just that. A coalition of marine organizations is working toward that goal through our congressional delegations who understand the problem.
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Mississippi anglers should be thankful at this time of year — and throughout the year — for the support of our Department of Marine Resources in assuring that our citizens have access.
We are (economically) important.