Recreational-Fishing Groups Ask Commerce to Revise Misleading Report

The new National Marine Fisheries Report on U.S. fisheries economics is misleading, charges a coalition of major recreational-fishing groups.

rec fishing

rec fishing

The recreational-fishing industry outpaces commercial industry in terms of economic value to the nation when imported seafood is not included, say sport-fishing industry leaders.

Industry leaders from major recreational fishing and boating groups have sent to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce a letter asking that the department issue a corrected report, "2012 Fisheries Economics of the United States" (FEUS), that separates imported and domestic seafood.

Representatives of six leading groups point out in the letter to Secretary Penny Pritzker that in the same report for 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service separated the economic impacts of imports versus domestic catch in the seafood industry.

The distinction is critical, according to the letter, since imported seafood “generates the lion’s share of economic activity” in the United States; in 2011, only 40 percent of total seafood sales were from domestic harvest and only 36 percent in 2012.

The letter cites several reasons “It is inappropriate to mix these two types of impacts,” noting a number of ways that imported seafood fails to contribute to the U.S. economy as does domestic harvest.

“Without explanation or warning, the 2012 FEUS combined imports and domestic production again. This generated a lot of press from the commercial [fishing] industry proclaiming huge growth and a reason to shut down the allocation discussions currently underway in several councils. Nothing could be further from the truth.” the letter states.

“While the domestic industry is using the FEUS 2012 numbers to demonstrate their growth, they actually shrunk considerably while Americans increased their demand for foreign seafood dramatically.”

The group says the misleading information is particularly poorly timed in that “heated debate rages nationwide regarding the allocation of fish stocks between commercial and recreational interests.” The result makes the commercial industry appear far larger than the recreational-fishing industry. But without imports, it says the commercial industry was actually nearly $8 billion smaller than the recreational-fishing industry.

“We feel NMFS needs to correct this misleading report,” concludes the coalition.

The May 9 letter -- which you can read in its entirety here -- is signed by:

Mike Nussman, President and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association;

Patrick Murray, President of the Coastal Conservation Association;

Rob Kramer, President of the International Game Fish Association;

Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Coastal Conservation;

Steve Stock, President of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation; and

Thom Dammrich, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association