Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Jay, read your short Sandpaper blurb about the fisheries economics study from our federal government – while it’s true that I’ve spent much of my life criticizing and ridiculing government efforts (I love my country, I have serious doubts about those annointed to run it), I have to point something out to you for your analysis.
Take a look at the bubble chart below produced by NOAA Fisheries to prove their economic trend analysis – notice something strange on the left side as compared to the right? Seriously, how can the number of total fishing trips (and the amount of saltwater anglers) drop in consecutive years, yet jobs, sales and income in the fishing business is going up? Have you talked to any of our local tackle shops to ask if their business is better today than it was 8 years ago?
So after looking at that graph above Jay, I would ask that you consider this for a moment. On a federal level, our nation’s unemployment rate from 2008 to 2011 rose from 5.1% to 9.1%; however, NOAA Fisheries (which is managed under the Department of Commerce) says job growth in the recreational fishing sector climbed by 18% overall – I mean, talk about bucking the national trends. You’d think with all the doom and gloom in the country today about domestic growth, the Commerce Department and our President would have something to celebrate with such positive job growth in the recreational fishing industry.
Considering that total recreational trips are falling each year, angler opportunities are being more limited, and many fisheries being closed down, the obvious question of course is how is this possible? The answer is, it’s NOT! As someone who works in and for the recreational sector, I can tell you first-hand that the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 2007 has been debilitating to coastal fishing communities, and particularly tackle shops and the for-hire sector. Coupled with a crippled economy affecting consumer spending, I believe the recreational fishing industry is seeing a more troubling time that the overall national averages in the private sector.
One more thing to consider Jay when choosing whether or not to buy this line of government bullshit about the socioeconomic health of our sector – remember the registry/license debate a few years back? The state angler registry of course was designed to contain all angler contacts in a database to improve recreational data collection – in addition to a national database of anglers, the 2007 Magnuson-Stevens Act required that NOAA utilize the vessel trip reports (VTR) collected by the federal for-hire sector. The deadline for utilizing these items in recreational data collection efforts was 2009….here’s what several members of the NOAA staff told Congress following the 2009 deadline.
NOAA’s Eric Schwaab before Congress in 2011
“The MRFSS methodology could be replaced in the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and Puerto Rico in 2012. While we would certainly have liked to make this transition to the new approach more quickly, the process of new survey design, angler registry development and transition to new methods required more time.” Under question by Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Mr. Schwaab said of not making the 2009 deadline, “Certainly it's suboptimal”
NOAA’s Sam Rauch before Congress in 2013
“It is correct that we have a 2009 deadline that we did not entirely meet.”
NOAA’s Dr. Richard Merrick before Congress in 2013
“Phone surveys don’t work anymore, so we’ve had to develop an angler registry and new approaches to sampling fishermen.”
Today, it’s 2014. I attended a recent MAFMC meeting in Montauk, where NOAA Fisheries said the angler registry is still not being used for contacting anglers, nor is the VTR data incorporated into the MRFSS/MRIP system. IN fact, NOAA is still using coastal phone books to dial people at random every year to ask them questions about their fishing habits…this is where ALL Of our recreational data comes from by the way!
So let me ask, if the recreational data collection methodologies have not been fixed by NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Commerce, where do you think they get their vibrant socioeconomic reporting data from the recreational sector?
This is what folks in the technology world call, GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT.
Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
Recreational Fishing Alliance