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Report says fish reallocation makes economic sense

A report released on Wednesday says that reallocation of fish can prompt economic gains.

A report released on Wednesday says that reallocation of fish can prompt economic gains because recreational landings produce a greater economic impact than commercial catch.

The report, “The Economic Gains from Reallocating Specific Saltwater Fisheries,” produced by the American Sportfishing Association and Southwick Associates, was introduced at the American Boating Congress, an annual legislative conference co-hosted by organizations from all segments of the boating and fishing industries.

The report uses economic contribution estimates and the few fisheries valuation studies available in three mixed-sector fisheries to examine the potential gains to be made by increasing the recreational allocation for specific species.

Some of the key findings include:

• Summer flounder in the Mid-Atlantic: Recreational angler spending supported as many as 25,450 jobs in 2011, compared with as many as 4,665 jobs supported by commercial production.

• Red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico: Recreational fishing for red snapper contributes about four times more to the nation’s gross domestic product than commercial harvests.

• Pacific halibut from California to Washington: Recreational fishing for halibut provides nearly five times more jobs per pound harvested, compared with commercial harvests.

“This report demonstrates how allocating larger shares of specific fisheries to the recreational sector can increase economic activity to the overall benefit to the nation,” ASA vice president for government affairs Scott Gudes said in a statement. “This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive analysis into these fisheries, but rather an examination based on available data. Further studies are needed, but these preliminary results are very compelling and demand at least a discussion on how our nation’s fisheries should be allocated.”

On April 30, during the House of Representatives markup hearing on a bill sponsored by Rep. Don Young, (R-Alaska), H.R. 1335, to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, an amendment was offered by Rep. Jeff Duncan, (R-S.C.,) that would require the development of guidelines for consideration in allocation decisions and a periodic review of allocations in fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

“This report further reinforces the importance of Congressman Duncan’s amendment, which will provide a science-based path forward for examination of allocations,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Ocean Resource Policy director. “ASA is grateful for Congressman Duncan’s leadership on behalf of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers and the 450,000 jobs they support.”

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