Angler Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation: The Future of Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation

Chapter 8. Understanding and Engaging Underrepresented Demographic Groups

Rebecca M. Krogman, Susan A. Schroeder, Ramon Martin, and Richard Aiken

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874738.ch8

In 2016, one in seven U.S. residents 16 years old and older went fishing and spent a combined US$46.1 billion on the activity, which includes equipment, licenses, and associated travel costs (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau 2017). Many states rely on fishing license sales and excise taxes on fishing equipment to support aquatic conservation programs, research, habitat restoration, fisheries management, and development of boating and fishing access on many waterways. Recent declines in the participation rate of licensed freshwater anglers and outdoor recreation have underscored the importance of understanding changing demographics in the United States and how that change affects fishing participation (RM and NSSF 2017). From 2001 to 2016, the adult population of the United States increased 20% while the number of freshwater anglers increased only 6% (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau 2012, 2017). Furthermore, current anglers were distinct from nonanglers and from the general population based on demographic composition. This chapter identifies and describes those underrepresented groups, their motivations and constraints, and recommendations for engaging them in recreational angling.

Underrepresented groups can be defined by area of residence, age, race, gender, and disability. Based on the most recent national survey, underrepresented groups include residents of large metropolitan areas, residents of the Atlantic and Pacific states, people 16–24 years old, people 65 years old and older, non-Whites, Hispanics, and women (Table 8.1). A separate analysis also revealed underrepresentation by individuals with physical and mental disabilities (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau 2001). Whereas those with disabilities represented 31.4% of the U.S. population in 2001 (Altman and Bernstein 2008), they made up only 5.5% of marine and freshwater anglers (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau 2001). Groups with downward-trending participation rates since 2000 are individuals 16–24 years old and residents of the Atlantic and Pacific states (Table 8.1). Similarly, numerous studies have documented lower levels of fishing participation by women (Dargitz 1988; Duda 1993), non-White individuals (Hunt and Ditton 2002; Harris 2012), and those with reduced access to fishing resources (Lee et al. 2016).