NMFS corrects report, seeks more info on sport fishing

Michael Penn Juneau Empire

The National Marine Fisheries Service is also working to improve its data on the impacts of recreational fishing. The agency recently announced corrections to its “Fisheries Economics of the United States 2012” report.

The report, which was released this spring, aims to compare recreational and commercial fishing values throughout the country.

At the time it was released, commercial seafood imports were included. Now, the impacts of imported seafood can be sorted out of the commercial impacts, providing a more realistic comparison, according to the agency.

In Alaska, the value of commercial fishing continues to outweigh the value of marine recreational fishing despite the change, but that wasn’t the case elsewhere in the nation.

Nationally, the change shows an overall decline in the value of commercial fisheries in 2012, and that marine recreational fisheries were worth $7.9 billion more than commercial fisheries.

In Alaska, according to the basic query of seafood industry impacts, in 2012 there were 55,390 jobs from commercial fishing in 2012, with $1.76 billion in income impacts, $4.17 billion in sales impacts and $2.2 billion in value-added impacts. Including imports in the data set boosts those numbers slightly.

The agency’s information cautions that the impact numbers cannot be added.

According to the website, marine recreational fishing generated 4,824 jobs, $213 million in income impacts, $558 million in sales impacts and $337 million in value-added impacts, in Alaska in 2012.

Now, NMFS is also working to collect more information on recreational fisheries — and also provide more information to anglers.

Beginning July 7, Alaska businesses that cater to recreational fishers could be asked to participate in a voluntary survey this summer.

NMFS is soliciting more information on the recreational fishing sector this summer via a survey of bait and tackle stores conducted throughout the country, including in Alaska.

The survey looks at 2013 information from the stores regarding fishing-related sales. The questions address bait types, the target species generating the most sales, the proportion of sales intended for saltwater fishing, and other related items.

According to NMFS public affairs specialist Jerry Slaff, the survey will be sent to more than 769 business in Alaska, and 5,600 nationwide.

In Alaska, NMFS used a list of all businesses that sell fishing licenses to put together the sampling frame and determine who to survey, Slaff wrote in an email.

According to the planned timeline posted online, notification letters were sent out June 16 and data collection will begin July 7. Outfitters and lodges were included in the pool of potential businesses to survey in case they sell bait and tackle, but the first notification letter included a postcard that businesses can send back if they don’t sell those items, Slaff wrote. A contractor, ICF International, is administering the survey for NMFS.

Preliminary results are expected to be released in December, with a final report due out next spring — data will be aggregated, and no information will be released about individual businesses.

Slaff wrote that the information could be used in future iterations of the fisheries economics report, but that is not yet certain.

The agency is also planning a survey of charter operators about the halibut catch sharing plan implemented this summer, particularly the provision that allows charter operators to lease quota from the commercial sector and possible changes.


07/08/2014 - 5:51am