Recreational fishing has reached new diversity milestones, according to a new industry study from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF). The 2020 Special Report on Fishing found that:
- 3.7 million African Americans participate in fishing, an increase of nearly 1 million over the last 10 years.
- Hispanic Americans are participating at a new record of 4.4 million participants.
- Women are also participating at an all-time high of 17.9 million participants.
- Overall, more than 50 million Americans participate in fishing, the highest number in 12 years.
- The activity gained more than 3 million new participants last year, the highest in five years.
“The outdoors belongs to all of us — not just those who fit a certain image,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, senior vice president of marketing and communications for RBFF. “Fishing is about enjoying nature, making memories and bonding with the people you love. It’s an experience that everyone should get a chance to have, which is why our work is grounded in the belief that the water is open to everyone.”
The new participation data comes as Americans overall take increased interest in fishing as a remedy for COVID-19-related stress and anxiety. According to a separate study, 1 in 5 Americans are more likely now to try fishing than they were prior to the pandemic. Among parents, the statistic is 1 in 4.
“Social distancing has taken a sizable toll on our collective mental health,” said Vatalaro. “But being on the water has been shown in studies to have a calming effect that can help treat stress and anxiety naturally. Fishing — and by extension, boating — are excellent ways to practice self-care and recreate responsibly.”
While fishing is enjoying notable gains, the news from the outrood recreation front isn’t all good amidst the global pandemic.
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable recently updated media with a call on the state of outdoor recreation.
ORR recently surveyed its member trade associations representing over 100,000 businesses from RVing and camping to boating and fishing to hunting and biking businesses about the impacts their organizations and member companies have felt since the pandemic began.
According to the responses of the 20 participating national outdoor recreation trade associations, representing businesses with nearly 2 million employees, the impact is startling:
- Of the businesses this survey represents, 89%, are experiencing difficulty with production and distribution, with 68% experiencing significant impacts.
- 79% of these businesses have laid off or furloughed a portion of their workforce, with 11% closing, or laying off most of or all of staff.
- 89% of outdoor industry businesses are experiencing a decrease in sales with 39% seeing a decrease of 50-75% or greater.
- 80% of outdoor industry trade associations are seeing a decrease in revenue with 30% seeing a decrease of 50-75% or greater.
“We knew there have been tremendous impacts to our members and to the entire outdoor recreation industry, but our survey results show the traumatic impact on every sector and to the heart of this once thriving economic engine,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “Just a few short months ago outdoor recreation was growing faster than almost any other industry, contributed over 778 billion dollars to the U.S. economy and employed over 5.2 million Americans. To see that 79% of outdoor businesses have had to lay off or furlough employees and that 89% are seeing decreased revenue is jaw dropping.”
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