The Great Lakes Charter Fishing Industry: 2002 to 2011


Credit: Ohio Sea Grant

ABSTRACT: We compare results of Great Lakes charter captain surveys from 2002 and 2011. Charter trips declined 27%, from over 103,000 in 2002 to less than 76,000 in 2011. Revenues between the two years fell 24%, from US$48.0 million to $36.4 million, after values were adjusted for inflation. An estimated 1,696 captains operated as a small business in 2011: a decrease of over 12% from 2002. Fuel costs and age of the average charter vessel were significantly higher in 2011. Motivations for chartering were basically unchanged since 2002, and fishing continued to be a secondary income source for most captains. The economy and aquatic nuisance species were included among top concerns for the future of the industry in both years. Although the basic nature of the charter industry had not changed, captains were making management decisions to reduce costs and maintain the viability of their business.

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