Value of Freshwater Fishing in Florida

[For the latest agency-wide figures on the scope of Florida's natural resources, the value of fishing, hunting, wildlife-associated recreation, boating and the Florida seafood industry see Fast Facts.]

Although the value of recreational fisheries extends far beyond its economic impact, it is important to note that Florida's famed fisheries continue to be a major job creator and to attract millions of tourists.

Southwick Associates published the "Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation, 2013" icon_PDF.gif (1.2MB) for the American Sportfishing Association. This report again documents that Florida remains the Fishing Capital of the World. Florida ranked #1 with 3.1 million anglers (#2 New York had 1.9 million), and total expenditures of $5 billion (#1, vs. $2.7 billion for New York). Florida's role as the fishing destination for travelers was also overwhelmingly reaffirmed, with 2 million non-resident anglers visiting the state (#2 Michigan had 347,000). The ripple effect of these dollars was an $8.7 billion economic impact from Florida's recreational fisheries that supported 80,211 jobs.

Specific to freshwater in 2011, Florida had 1.2 million anglers. They enjoyed 25.7 million days fishing (#2 Texas had 22.6 million), spending almost a billion dollars and generating an economic impact of $1.7 billion, which supported more than 14,040 jobs.

The actual reports are available from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Related Recreation Survey: Preliminary National icon_PDF.gif (26MB); Preliminary State icon_PDF.gif (4.2MB); Florida Details icon_PDF.gif (8.3MB), and quick national facts icon_PDF.gif (4MB).

No wonder Florida is the "Fishing Capital of the World." External Website 

For comparison, the 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau studies are found at: "National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Related Recreation" icon_PDF.gif (4.2MB); state comparisonsicon_PDF.gif (2.6MB); Florida report icon_PDF.gif (7MB), and Southwick Associates summary of the national economic impacts of recreational fishing icon_PDF.gif (211KB). The Fish and Wildlife Service also provided a summary brochure icon_PDF.gif.

Freshwater Recreational Fishing License Sales:

License sales can be highly variable between years and are influenced by factors such as gasoline prices, the economy and weather conditions.  It is important to note that only about half of Florida anglers actually have to purchase a license due to various exemptions, so these numbers do not reflect participation.

In addition, the number of certified fishing license holders reported for Federal Aid in SportFish Restoration is less than the number of anglers (only license holders are counted), or total fishing privileges (since one person may hold multiple licenses). The certification reports External Website can be found on the Federal Aid site. 

Freshwater License Sales summary for FY 2014-15:

Resident Licenses 461,356  $     18,421,741  $       7,445,842
Non-Resident Licenses 111,924  $       3,394,837  $       3,394,837
  Short-Term 63,205  $       1,178,123  $       1,178,123
  Annual 48,719  $       2,216,715  $       2,216,715
Grand Total-Freshwater 573,280  $     21,816,578  $     10,840,679
* Revenue directly to the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, but all fishing license revenue goes to FWC for conservation, including youth education, research, habitat management, law enforcement etc. 

Complete Fishing/Hunting License sales summaries for the last fiscal year (2014-15)  and previous years (2013-14) (2012-13) (2011-12 ) (2010-11) (2009-10) (2008-09)  (2007-08) and (2006-07) are also available with a more detailed explanation icon_PDF.gif

NOTE: Between FY 2013-14 and FY 2014-15 overall freshwater fishing privileges sold increased by 7% with nearly a 21% in value. Non-Resident sales were up by 11%.

State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Report (SCORP):

 An alternate set of data discussing the value of recreational fishing and boating is compiled under contract with our sister agency, the Department of Environmental Protection.  The 2012 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Report reveals the importance of fishing to both residents and non-residents. 

The study highlights the tight link between recreation and tourism in Florida, determining that 98 percent of Florida’s tourists believe that outdoor recreation is important to them, and 97 percent of tourists are satisfied with outdoor recreation opportunities in the state. Recreation has long served as an economic driver in Florida, as the state remains a major destination for national and international tourism. An estimated 82.3 million visitors made their way to the Sunshine State in 2010, resulting in $62.7 billion in total tourist spending and the creation of 947,700 jobs to support the tourism industry (VISIT FLORIDA, 2010).

Nearly all Florida residents (96 percent) say that outdoor recreation is important to them; this includes 72 percent who think it is very important and 24 percent who think it is somewhat important. The results are similar among tourists: 98 percent say outdoor recreation is important to them personally (65 percent saying very important and 33 percent saying somewhat important).

The resident survey asked each respondent whether he or she participated in each of 26 activities in Florida in the past 12 months. At the top, are saltwater beach activities (63%), wildlife viewing trips (49%), bicycling (44%), picnicking (40%), visiting historic or archeological sites (39%), and saltwater fishing (38%). (Note that participation in any fishing, either freshwater (28% only freshwater fish) or saltwater, is 46%, which ranks it third.)

More details are available from DEP's SCORP WebsiteExternal Website

License Trends from RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation:

June 2013 - The Special Report on Fishing & Boating, conducted by RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation, provides detailed information on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region. This fourth annual report gathered information on the fishing “churn” rate, potential new fishing participants and boating participation.


FWC Facts:
Healthy lakes with vibrant fisheries enhance property values & development potential and justify the need for sustainable development practices to protect them into the future.

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