Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Growing the sport of fishing

By James Lindner


Get to know – and appreciate – ASA


I’d bet that a large percent of anglers are unfamiliar with one of the most powerful forces behind today’s recreational angling: the American Sportfishing Association. That’s surprising, since the group traces its roots to 1933. It was formed on the heels of the Great Depression to assist tackle companies return to profitabilty.


Over the years, ASA’s efforts have involved supporting its members – today over 700 of the biggest fishing tackle manufacturers and retailers – and providing them with information to boost their sales. 


ASA’s efforts on behalf of the quality of fishing also have been noteworthy. They were a driving force behind passage of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act in 1984 and its expansion in 1991. This legislation, widely supported by anglers and boaters, authorizes excise taxes on fishing equipment and outboard motor fuel to fund fish habitat conservation, research and population monitoring, and creation of fishing and boating access on public waters.


ASA also is active on the political front, opposing legislation that could negatively affect tackle companies, such as efforts to ban the use of lead fishing tackle and soft-plastic lures. And they’re fighting to preserve access on public waterways that private entities have usurped. Their political power is based on the economic effects of recreational fishing. According to surveys, the nation’s 47 million anglers spend over $48 billion on fishing tackle and equipment and related items. That has an impact of $115 billion on the U.S. economy, and supports employment for 828,000 people in industry jobs.


ASA also works to boost fishing participation, which helps support state conservation agencies through license sales, as well as increasing the economic health of the fishing industry. In recent years, ASA has started several programs to boost angling participation, noting that older white males (the average angler and average customer) are aging out of the sport.


The group’s most ambitious goal is “60 in 60,” which aims to boost U.S. angler numbers to 60 million (from an estimated 47.2 million today) by December 2021. They plan to achieve this goal through Recruitment, Reactivation, and Retention, summarized in the organization’s “R3” effort.


While we strongly support bringing more anglers into the fold, let’s consider a few notes of caution. First, we’re talking about a lot more anglers – an increase of 13 million anglers. If you found parking scarce at an access, such problems will be compounded unless we pay a lot of attention to increasing access to fishing waters.


In addition, fishing pressure has hurt the quality of fish populations in areas. More anglers mean more monitoring and potential regulations to prevent overharvest. This will be challenging, given the reduced budgets of state and federal conservation agencies.


Let’s all consider positive solutions to these dilemmas and be active in the decision-making process.

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