Status of Recreational Saltwater Fishing in Florida: Characterization of License Sales, Participation, and Fishing Effort
Chad W. Hanson and Beverly Sauls
Abstract.—Saltwater recreational fishing in Florida generates an estimated US$16.7 billion annually in revenue. With sustained increases in Florida’s human population and tourism through 2008, which has continued in recent years, monitoring and managing recreational saltwater fisheries have become essential for sustainable management of the state’s natural resources. Florida’s recreational saltwater fishery is among the largest in the country, with an estimated 27% of all saltwater fishing trips taken in the United States and more than 40% of all trips taken in the southeastern region of the country originating from Florida. This paper evaluates multiple indices of fishing pressure and highlights some of the important trends in Florida’s recreational fishery. Indices of recreational fishing effort and participation from recreational survey data indicate that fishing pressure has increased significantly in Florida since 1998. The average number of saltwater recreational fishing licenses sold in Florida has also significantly increased since 1989, which is the first year recreational fishing licenses were required in the state. Results of this analysis indicate that increasing trends in fishing pressure in Florida have been sustained over recent years. These increasing trends appear to be driven to large extent by fishing pressure of anglers fishing on private recreational fishing vessels. This continued growth may present challenges for management of saltwater recreational fisheries into the future.