FWC joins “Take Me Fishing” Campaign To Encourage Recreational Fishing

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages families to enjoy fishing in Florida this summer and is working with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and 29 other states to get the word out.

“The FWC is proud of Florida’s recreational fishing heritage and designation as Fishing Capital of the World,” said Bob Wattendorf, special projects coordinator. With Florida’s 7,700 public lakes and 12,000 miles of fishable rivers and canals, and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, opportunities for families to reconnect with nature and share quality time together on the water are abundant.

“When you add to that the large number of recreational sport fishes and year-round weather conditions, it is no wonder that Florida attracts more anglers than anywhere else in the country,” Wattendorf said.

Partners in the Take Me FishingTM campaign are using a coordinated approach to remind anglers about the pleasures of fishing and boating. “We especially want to encourage family participation as a way of spending quality time together and getting kids back to nature,” said Ken Haddad, executive director of the FWC.

Studies demonstrate that reconnecting with nature has many beneficial effects for both youths and adults, and as they experience the joys of nature first-hand, most people become better stewards of the environment, helping protect it for future generations to enjoy.

This year, TV, radio and print ads sponsored by RBFF will air in Florida and nationally. Frank Peterson, RBFF president and CEO, says the Take Me Fishing campaign is about “capturing the excitement and the memories associated with boating and fishing.” Along with MyFWC.com, the new TakeMeFishing.org Web site will be a key destination for those who want to plan a trip, buy a fishing license, design their dream boat or check out the latest equipment. The wealth of information on these sites provides everything needed for a new or experienced angler to get started or find new fishing and boating opportunities.

The FWC also is conducting a five-year freshwater fishing license bonus program. This promotion provides an extra incentive to freshwater anglers in the form of free tackle, publications and fishing accessories that add to the convenience and cost savings already associated with a five-year license.  Matched with the priceless memories created from family fishing experiences, the FWC makes this offer difficult to resist. Five-year licenses cost $79, plus a convenience fee.  However, the first 3,000 customers to upgrade to a five-year freshwater fishing license after April 1 not only save up to $20 in fees (compared to buying five annual licenses), but also receive a free bonus package by mail. And, their license fees won’t go up for the next five years. Some items included are free hooks from Daiichi and Owner, and lures from Culprit and Berkley, plus a coupon for free sunglasses from Penn. For all the details visit MyFWC.com/Fishing/5yr-2008.html.

Fishing license fees are used for fish and wildlife conservation purposes and are a major source of funding for conservation programs, from habitat restoration to fish stocking and fishing-access enhancement. Since a resident freshwater fishing license costs just $17 for an entire year, it is already an outstanding recreational value.

The average angler takes 17 trips a year, so that is approximately $1 per trip that typically lasts four to six hours.

“What other form of recreation is that inexpensive, provides you a variety of health benefits, and hooks you on a lifetime sport that can actually benefit our environment?” Wattendorf said.

Fast Facts About Florida Fisheries

  • 5,983 square miles of water
  • 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline (8,426 “detailed” miles)
  • About 1,700 named rivers, streams and creeks travelling 10,550 miles
  • Approximately 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals and an overall total of 51,858 miles of flowing water, including minor tributaries, creeks and ditches (20,000 of which consistently have water).
  • About 7,700 lakes greater than 10 acres, covering 3 million total acres
  • More than 200 native species of freshwater fish
  • More than 500 native species of saltwater fish

Recreational Fishing Annual Economic Impact

Based on the 2006 National Survey, Florida again ranks number one in:

  • In-state anglers 2,767,000 (vs. #2 Texas with 2.5 million)
    • Freshwater – 1,417,000 (1,155,000 resident and 262,000 nonresident)
    • Saltwater – 2,002,000 (1,286,000 resident and 716,000 nonresident)
  • Angler expenditures in state – $4.4 billion (vs. #2 Texas with $3.4 billion)
  • Angler-supported jobs – 75,068 (vs. #2 Texas with 59,938)
  • State and local taxes generated by sportfishing – $443 million (vs. #2 Texas with $392 million)
  • Federal tax generated – $558 million
  • Nonresident anglers (freshwater and saltwater) – 885,000 (vs. #2 North Carolina 395,000)
  • Nonresident angler expenditures – $1.0 billion (vs. #2 Wisconsin $0.6 billion)
  • Days of fishing – 46,311,000 (24.5 million freshwater, 23.1 million saltwater, 4.8 million nonresident)
  • Anglers averaged 17.2 days per year fishing in Florida, for a total of 46.3 million days of quality outdoor recreation.  A total of 24.4 million days were spent in fresh water by 1.4 million anglers and, 23.1 million days were spent in salt water by 2.0 million anglers.
    • Total fishing – $7.5 billion (some anglers don’t specify fresh or salt), number one in the nation. Texas, the next highest state, generates $6.1 billion
      • Saltwater fishing – $5.2 billion, 51,500 jobs
        Freshwater fishing – $2.4 billion, 23,500 jobs
    • Commercial fishing – $576 million, 9,800 jobs
    • Boating – $18.5 billion, 220,000 jobs
    • Number of paid fishing license holders (May 2007- April 2008):  1,656,143
      • Freshwater license holders:  539,376 (40 percent of estimated users)
      • Saltwater license holders:  1,086,767 (54 percent of estimated users)
        • Note:  Many people are exempt (e.g., less than 16 or over 65 years of age, shoreline anglers, resident saltwater anglers, freshwater cane-pole anglers in their county of residence, saltwater anglers fishing from licensed charter boats or piers).

Our Public Responsibilities Paid for largely by Fishing License Fees

  • Law Enforcement – We enforce rules to protect fish and keep waterways safe for millions of boaters. FWC law enforcement officers are among the first on the scene to help when natural disasters occur, because of our specialized equipment to access remote, hard-to-reach locations.
  • Research – Our scientists work to provide information for the FWC and others to make management decisions based on the best science available involving fish and wildlife populations, habitat issues and the human-dimension aspects of conservation.
  • Management – The FWC manages the state’s fish and wildlife resources based on the latest scientific data to conserve some of the most complex and delicate ecosystems in the world along with a wide diversity of species.
  • Outreach – We communicate with a variety of audiences to encourage participation, responsible citizenship and stewardship of the state’s natural resources. This includes:
    • Boating safety classes; outdoor recreation classes, including freshwater and saltwater fishing; programs specifically for people who are not traditionally taught outdoors activities; programs and messages designed to help Floridians coexist with a variety of wildlife; public information — answering thousands of telephone calls and e-mail questions annually on subjects relating to fishing, fisheries habitat, outdoor recreation,  boating and nonnative species.