"This is the kind of new and enhanced information that will help several levels of recreational fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico," GSMFC Executive Director Larry Simpson said.
NOAA, GSMFC, and the saltwater angling community need timely economic data to help evaluate the economic importance of recreational fishing activities. The data will give a more updated look at the economic effects of fishing regulations and changes in the ecosystem caused by natural or manmade events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. The information gathered in the survey will contribute to more informed decisions on a variety of recreational fishing issues.
NOAA and the GSMFC will survey a random sampling of the approximately 3 million saltwater anglers in the five Gulf states and Puerto Rico. The survey will include a random sampling of people who fish from shore, docks, party or charter boats and privately owned boats. Surveying began in January and will continue throughout the year in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico. It will begin in Texas in March and April. This is NOAA's and GSMFC's second survey focusing on how much saltwater anglers spend on their sport throughout the Gulf region.
GSMFC and its state partners will ask anglers how long their fishing trips last and how much they spend on bait, boat fuel, ice, charter fees and other expenses. Anglers will also be asked to participate in a follow-up survey that will ask them to estimate what they spent on durable goods such as boats and fishing tackle used for saltwater angling for the previous 12 months. Those who participate in both parts of the survey will help NOAA and GSMFC produce accurate economic information.
Economists from NOAA's Fisheries Service and the GSMFC as well as state partners are assisting with the 2011 survey. Once the economic data are collected, they will be analyzed and released as a NOAA report. The most recent economic study in 2008 showed that anglers' expenditures generated more than $12 billion in sales and supported more than 113,000 jobs throughout the Gulf region.
The GSMFC's principal objectives include the conservation, development, and full utilization of the fishery resources of the Gulf of Mexico in order to provide food, employment, income, and recreation to the people of these United States.