Marine recreational anglers caught more than 468 million fish in 2007, down slightly from
last year's historic high of 475 million fish, but still the second highest recreational catch total in the last ten years.
The overall number of fish caught and kept
also declined slightly, from 214 million to196
million fish, according to NOAA's Fisheries Service.
The 2007 data demonstrates a widespread
turn toward "catch and release" among
recreational anglers. While anglers are catching
about 27 percent more fish than a decade ago,
they are also releasing more fish than they keep.
Of the 468 million fish caught by anglers in
2007, 272 million or 58 percent were released
alive. The percentage of fish released into the
environment has increased steadily from about 51 percent in 1993.
Spotted seatrout was the most popular
catch among marine recreational anglers. The
species is caught in the Gulf of Mexico and the
south Atlantic regions, which have the highest
combined concentration of saltwater anglers in
the nation. The top catches in other regions were
lane snapper (Caribbean), striped bass (North
Atlantic), Atlantic croaker (Mid-Atlantic), chub
mackerel (Pacific), black rockfish (Pacific
Northwest), and bigeye scad (Western Pacific).
"We rely on data from both the
recreational and commercial fishing communities
to ensure we're making informed conservation
decisions," said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA
assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries
Service. "As we move towards an ecosystem
approach to managing fisheries, the need for
timely and accurate data on recreational fishing has never been greater."
Recreational fishing continues to be one
of the most popular outdoor sports. Participation
rates remain largely unchanged from previous
years. Anglers took 86.7 million saltwater trips
in 2007, a slight 1.2 percent increase over the
previous year, according to the NOAA report.
These statistics are compiled by NOAA's
Fisheries Service from in-person and telephone
interviews with recreational fishermen.
Currently, the agency is engaged in a joint
state-federal initiative to redesign its surveys
to provide a more complete picture of saltwater
anglers' catch and effort and improve the
conservation of our shared ocean resources.
NOAA's Fisheries Service is currently
accepting public comments until Aug. 11 on the
rule to create a National Saltwater Angler
Registry, a major part of this initiative to
improve surveys. The registry will list anglers
who fish in federal ocean waters or for
anadromous species such as striped bass, shad and
herring that spawn in fresh water and spend part
of their lives in the ocean. The registry also
will help NOAA do more complete angler surveys
and also help demonstrate the economic benefits
of recreational fishing on national and local
economies. Public comments on the proposed
registry can be submitted until Aug. 11
electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.
Comments may also be mailed to:
John Boreman Director, Office of Science and Technology
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring MD 20910 Attn.: Gordon Colvin
The data released today on recreational
fishing is part of Fisheries of the United States
2007, a detailed annual report on the nation's
commercial and recreational fishing, landings,
import, export, per capita fish consumption and
consumer expenditures for fish products. The
report will be on the web on Friday and can be
read at http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/st1/index.html