How Fishing Dollars Contribute to Conservation Efforts

Every year, anglers and conservationists alike spend tens of millions of dollars on gear, travel and licences to make a strong impact on the conservation of endangered species. Unfortunately, with all the fishing, anglers never stop to think about how their actions directly affect species conservation. If more anglers were to work towards conservation efforts, they could have a greater impact than they currently do.

“Sport fishing is a billion dollar business that funds conservation efforts throughout the world,” says Paul Strobel, president of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) United States branch. “Other forms of wildlife protection and conservation don’t come close to the monetary value of sport fishing.”

In the fight for the future of the environment, it is often the overlooked catch that makes a big difference.

Fishing is not only one of the oldest and most sustainable forms of recreation, it also has a huge economic impact on our economy. Fishermen are the backbone of a number of businesses that account for more than 800,000 jobs. Jobs in the fishing industry range from manufacturing to selling fishing tackle and fishing tackle shops. To put things in perspective: The amount of money spent by fishermen to support fishery-related retail sales is said to be 51st on the Fortune 500 list.

How much revenue do fishermen derive from the sale of licences and equipment?

There are 33 million sport anglers age 16 and older in the United States. Annually, anglers spend $48 billion on boat equipment, gasoline, fishing tackle, licenses and other fishing-related products. In 2010 alone, excise taxes on package cars totaled $390 million and license sales totaled $657 million. In addition, $403 million was collected in private donations and total state agency revenues were $1.45 billion.

Where does revenue from taxes and duties go?

Many people hear about the state excise tax, and their next logical question is: How do they spend the money that increases the price of my equipment? Compared to other federal taxes, the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 gives fishermen direct visibility into how their taxes are spent. By law, 10% of the value of the fisheries products is paid into the fund. Once the money is raised, 100% of it is donated to the Wildlife Restoration Fund and the Sport Fish Restoration Fund. This money is then transferred to the states based on the number of permits sold by each state. At the state level, the law requires that all permits sold go to state wildlife conservation, fishing or hunting programs. This money cannot be allocated to other governmental entities or used for projects that do not fall into these categories. All the work done through licence fees and tax revenues benefits the fishery and all fishermen. Bill O’Callahan stands on the banks of the Hoosick River in Williamstown, Massachusetts. word-image-2849

Examples of the use of excise money foractivities

  • In October 2015, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced funding for 13 grants totaling more than $1.2 million. The grants were used to restore forests and rivers in six New England states. Funding was provided for 13 miles of eroded banks and 118 miles of streams. Participating organizations include Atlantic Salmon Federation, American Rivers, Connecticut River Watershed Council, University of New Hampshire, Merrimack River Watershed Council, and Trout Unlimited. The six organizations received a total of $403,400 in funding and were represented by Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Measures taken include improving trout habitat, restoring fish passage in streams and recruiting volunteers to help with many of these projects.

Wild brook trout caught in the Swift River in Massachusetts. word-image-2850Since some of the world’s best known species—such as the peregrine falcon—depend on the health of the oceans, it’s not surprising that fishing is now a major contributor to ocean conservation efforts. As a result, millions of dollars in fishing industry incentives are being utilized by governments and non-profit organizations to protect endangered species, such as the critically endangered vaquita marina, from overfishing.. Read more about wildlife management is funded largely by what group and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are conservation efforts funded?

Funds from the state and federal governments support a variety of conservation efforts around the country, from funding wildlife studies, to building wetlands, to reforestation projects, and more. But how exactly are these funds distributed? What types of projects are supported? How much money is spent in each state? When most people think of conservation, they think of national parks or wildlife preserves, but there are also dozens of conservation efforts that are funded by non-governmental organizations, many of which count fishing as a major component of their efforts.

Who contributes the most to conservation?

The amount of money the federal government spends on fish and wildlife conservation has been declining steadily since the mid-1990s. In 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) received $56 million in receipts from the Pittman-Robertson Act and its associated excise taxes. Three years later that number dropped to $27 million. A decade later, in 2011, the FWS received $16 million in Pittman-Robertson Act revenues. Most people can’t make it out to the woods to catch a few fish, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing to the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat. The money you spend on fishing goes to a wide variety of initiatives, such as the purchase of new boats and tackle, expenses for field research, and even funding of partnerships like the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA) partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

How much money do hunters contribute to wildlife conservation?

The topic of this blog entry is the debate about the economic benefits of hunting and fishing. In this chapter, I will outline the facts and figures behind the economic benefits of hunting and fishing. For many people, the idea that one person’s “catch” can make a lasting impact on the environment is hard to believe. It’s also a difficult concept to grasp, especially when you realize that only one percent of the world’s population fishes. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are more than 1.2 billion fishermen and women in the world, and when their combined efforts are taken into account, about $4 billion is spent each year to protect the fish and animals that are harvested by commercial and recreational fishermen around the world.

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