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RBFF celebrates its 20th anniversary

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation is celebrating 20 years of recruiting, retaining and reactivating anglers and boaters through its campaigns, partnerships and grants.

The group was founded in October 1998 and tasked with reversing the trend of waning angler and boater participation.

“In the years leading up to RBFF’s founding, fishing participation was down, and critical conservation programs were suffering as a result,” said RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson in a statement. “I feel we at RBFF have corrected course. Fishing participation has increased nearly 20 percent over the last 10 years, no doubt due in large part to our marketing efforts, partnerships and programs, and we are making strong progress toward our 60 in 60 goal.”

The group has spearheaded an industrywide effort to be more inclusive of minorities and women in its marketing campaigns. Female anglers accounted for 45 percent of new participants, and Hispanic participation is at its highest level — 4.2 million — since this data was first collected.

“Back in 1996, when the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation results became available, it was clear that we as a fishing community had a problem,” said former American Sportfishing Association president and CEO Mike Nussman.

“Fishing participation, which had typically increased with each previous survey, declined for the first time,” Nussman said. “ASA’s answer was to work with state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to convince Congress to dedicate a small portion of the excise tax funding to the promotion of fishing and boating activities. We were successful, and RBFF was created.”

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