A new study is showing that recreational fishing has reached a new milestone in terms of diversity.
The study from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation showed that 3.7 million African Americans participate in fishing, an increase of almost a million over the last decade.
In addition, Hispanic Americans are participating at a new record of 4.4 million participants, and women are participating at an all-time high — with 17.9 million female anglers.
Overall, more than 50 million Americans fish — the highest number of participants in 12 years.
The recreation gained more than 3 million participants last year, the highest number in five years.
"The outdoors belongs to all of us — not just those who fit a certain image," said RBFF marketing and communications senior vice president Stephanie Vatalaro in a statement. "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 the industry experiences a spike in participation during the pandemic. 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."
To help further increase diversity in fishing and boating, RBFF has launched a new public service initiative called Get On Board in partnership with Discover Boating.
The foundation has long supported increasing diversity in recreational fishing.
Launched in 2014, Vamos A Pescar is the organization's Hispanic outreach initiative, the first of its kind in the fishing and boating industry. The campaign helps Hispanic families break through perceived barriers to the sport through the George H. W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund.
In 2018, RBFF launched its Women Making Waves social media movement to increase female visibility in fishing. While 43 percent of new participants are female, only 18 percent see themselves represented in the activity.