VIP fishing days important for promotion, education

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August is the perfect month for promoting our Great Lakes resources. The weather is nice, and the fish are hungry. It is also a great time to share these outdoor resources with Very Important People who may not normally experience these angling attractions on a regular basis.

Thanks to progressive thinking fisheries advisory boards in Niagara, Erie and Chautauqua counties, a special day is set aside each year to showcase the Western New York fisheries to area politicians and those affiliated with county governments. Most times, these are the decision makers that can make or break a program, supply funding that can impacting sportfishing promotion efforts, and see first-hand how this industry can make a huge economic impact throughout the year, especially for the smaller lakeshore communities. They can also become staunch advocates.

On August 19, the Niagara County Fisheries Development Board, along with Board liaison Dr. John Syracuse (a County Legislator), and several area charter captains continued with a tradition to have a morning of fishing on Lake Ontario out of the ports of Wilson and Olcott, followed by a lunch and friendly awards presentation. The weather was perfect, nearly everyone caught fish, and there was a special focus on the importance of fishing as a tool in the area’s tourism efforts.

State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and State Senator Rob Ortt joined in some portion of the day’s itinerary, along with numerous Niagara County legislators, the Niagara County Manager, town supervisors, city and village mayors, department heads and the county’s Tourism Promotion Agent in Destination Niagara USA. Outdoor media and other media professionals are often included in the mix, too, and this time it was the morning crew at WLVL Radio. Members of the state’s DEC also shared time and witnessed the camaraderie that resulted from the effort. It was well worth it.

“Sportfishing and the outdoors is no longer just a niche market for us,” said John Percy, president and CEO of Destination Niagara USA. “It is now an important part of everything we do.”

Studies from a decade ago documented a $30 million a year economic impact for Niagara County alone. Destination Niagara USA and Niagara County are ready to team up and conducted a new survey that they are confident will be even bigger.

Erie and Chautauqua County Fisheries Advisory boards collaborated on a joint effort with the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association to hold a much larger scale event out of Dunkirk each year. This year it was held on August 4, and it was another huge success.

Again, the day focuses on VIPs in both counties, as well as outdoor media from around the Northeast and members of both fish boards. During the lunch gathering, there is a presentation by board members to create an awareness for some topic of concern relating to Lake Erie in an effort to educate attendees. The model works and many of the same people return year after year.

There are so many positive points that could be stressed and promoted when it comes to fishing and the outdoors, especially in our Great Lakes waters. We need to do a better job shouting from the rooftops within our own ranks and let people know that we have world class fishing resources that are second to none. The three counties of WNY seem to have a template that other counties can follow, and it would be in the best interest of everyone in the state if more counties or regions followed their lead.

New York State is blessed with some outstanding natural resources. Let’s promote the Finger Lakes and the Catskills, the Adirondacks and the Erie Canal, Lake Champlain and Lake George to the Hudson River and Oneida Lake. The more VIPs we educate, the easier it will be to obtain funds for promotion purposes through I Love NY, DEC, and the various tourism entities from around the Empire State.

Take the time to promote and educate the people in your area as to how valuable the fisheries are. The dividends will be worth it in the long run.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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