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Fishing’s Up and So Are Hurricanes

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How things can be so good and discouraging at the same time is sometimes a head scratcher. On one hand, news about fishing is positive for long-term boat sales. On the other we may see more hurricanes because of clean air.

First, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s special report reveals some good news that fishing participation has topped 50 million anglers for the second time in 14 years. Previously there was a slight Covid-related decline, but data from the latest study indicates the gains now top pre-pandemic levels and support a six-year upward trend.

"We were hoping to hit our goal of 60 million anglers by 2021. While that didn’t happen, there are still plenty of positive numbers to celebrate in this year's report," according to RBFF president and CEO Dave Chanda. "An additional 2.3 million Americans went fishing last year compared to pre-Covid years. More importantly, our key audiences for growth, including women, Hispanics and youth, continue to participate at historically high levels."

RBFF is releasing participation data in advance of the summer fishing and boating seasons to help inform the industry's efforts to engage and retain new audiences supporting continued participation. Some key findings in this report are:

· In 2021, 52.4 million Americans went fishing, up 4.5 percent over pre-pandemic 2019

· 12.9 million youth (ages 6-17) went fishing in 2021, up 14 percent over 2019

· 4.7 million Hispanics fished in 2021, up 7 percent over 2019

· 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, up 8 percent over 2019

· 86 percent of current fishing participants first fished before age 12, demonstrating the critical importance of introducing both boating and fishing at a young age

· The primary reason Americans say they fish is to enjoy nature while escaping the usual demands of life

"While our efforts to engage diverse new audiences continue to yield strong results, our leaky bucket remains an issue," said RBFF senior vice president of marketing and communications Stephanie Vatalaro. "2021 saw 11.7 million new and returning anglers, but 14 million lapsed out. Together with our state and industry partners, we're working to strengthen retention efforts in 2022 and beyond."

Accordingly, the more people that get into fishing, the more likely the future sales of fishing-oriented boat models will increase.

What About Clean Air and Hurricanes?

Who would have thought it besides the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but a recent study has revealed a link between changes in regionalized air pollution across the globe to storm activity going both up and down.

Specifically, a 50 percent decrease in pollution particles and droplets in both Europe and the U.S. is linked to a 33 percent increase in Atlantic storm formation over the past couple of decades. On the other hand, it’s just the opposite on the Pacific with the more air pollution and fewer typhoons, according to a study just published in the Science Advances.

It’s reported that NOAA hurricane scientist, Hiroyuki Murakami, ran numerous computer simulations to examine the change in storm activity in different parts of the globe that couldn’t be explained by natural climate cycles and found a link to aerosol pollution from industry and cars, notably sulfur particles and droplets in the air.

On the Atlantic side, aerosol pollution peaked around 1980 and has dropped since. It’s masking of some greenhouse gas warming is going away so sea temperatures are increasing. On top of that, the lack of cooling aerosols has helped push the jet stream further north, reducing the wind shear that dampens hurricane formation.

It’s why the Atlantic has gone hurricane crazy since the 1990s and why it was so quiet in the ’70s and ’80s, contends climate and hurricane scientist Jim Kossin of the risk firm, The Climate Service. Although he was not involved in the study, he said it makes sense. The aerosol pollution of those decades “gave a lot of people a break, but we’re paying for it now,” he says.

Scientists have long held that aerosol pollution cools air and reduces the effects of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuel, and earlier studies have noted it as a possible escalator of Atlantic storms. Now, it appears that while greenhouse gases might reduce the overall number of storms slightly but increase the number and strength of the most intense hurricanes, making them wetter and increasing storm surge flooding, both Murakami, Kossin and other scientists say.

All this draws attention to the need for dealers and marina operators on the East and Gulf coasts to continue to make changes and improvements that can withstand storms now. The time to prepare for a hurricane is before it comes.

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