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Paying people not to fish?

Yes, you read the headline correctly! And, now, you’re scratching your head like I am, right?

It seems that NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which is part of the Department of Commerce, is undertaking a socio-economic study in Massachusetts by offering cash to saltwater anglers in exchange for giving up their right to fish for the rest of 2012. According to the Recreational Fishing Alliance, those licensed Massachusetts anglers who go for the deal will receive up to $500 apiece when they give up their fishing license and all rights to fish in state waters.

Now before you start firing off e-mails to Washington, you should know that paying people for research studies isn’t all that uncommon these days. Just go on Craigslist, for example, and you can get bucks for joining studies on maladies like osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia. Moreover, we in the boating industry have long urged the NMFS to undertake socio-economic studies of fishing to better understand the immense positive social and economic impact of fishing. But, it’s probably safe to assume no one in the boating and fishing industries ever expected paying anglers to give up their fishing rights would be a chosen study method.

You have to question what will really come out of this study, assuming a sufficient number of anglers give up their fishing to make the study statistically valid. Hopefully something good for fishing because it’s likely going to have a negative impact on local boat and fishing businesses.

According to already existing NMFS socioeconomic data on saltwater angling habits, the final economic impact within the Massachusetts coastal fishing community amounts to approximately $201,425 in overall consumer spending. But, the RFA says that may not be the whole story.

For example, for fishermen 16 and older, total annual expenditures by saltwater anglers average about $1,151 per person, with $219 spent annually on food & lodging, $137 on transportation expenses, and $795 per angler directly on fishing equipment and services. But, if dad “sells off” his fishing rights it seems predictable he’s not taking the teens and pre-teens fishing in 2012. More loss not included.

In addition, U.S Fish & Wildlife data indicates that there are approximately 298,000 saltwater anglers in Massachusetts who, in 2006, spent more than $494.6 million on saltwater fishing tackle alone. Approximately 69 percent of those anglers fished by boat in 2006, meaning that fewer fishing trips will result in less money spent on boat preparation, docking, fuel, and other services directly related to marine dealers and marinas. The result is a negative trickle down impact within the Massachusetts coastal community. If the idea is to measure what happens to small businesses when the government pays customers to stay away, this study should be a landmark!

In reality, the NMFS is responding to the widespread call for better socio-economic data on recreational fishing. As boaters and anglers, we’re absolutely for that. We’ve called for it. Nevertheless, this particular method – well, it’s hard to fathom the idea of paying people not to fish.


6 comments on “Paying people not to fish?

  1. Rod

    I am not the “typical” Massachusetts saltwater angler based on the mentioned statistics, but having grown up on the water, I enjoyed the simple freedom of “wetting a line” anytime I wished. My Dad got me started, we fished for Scup early in the summer…. going out to the edge of our cove near the channel, in our little 8′ pram… what excitement when I felt that tug on the line and reeled in my catch! Later in the summer, when the snapper blues appeared, we would be out trolling together in that little boat. I might also fish off our 21′ sailboat, but rarely caught anything as I recall, most of the fish I caught were from either of our 8′ dinghies. As I grew older, I’d fish during hte week without my Dad, even getting my younger sister to go with me at times. In those days my Grandmother was living with us al lsummer and she was more than willing to cook up any fish that I caught and cleaned, so we periodically had bluefish for dinner.
    We now have a 14′ power boat and my 17′ sailboat…… Dad and I still troll for snapper blues together, strangely enough…often in our present 8′ dinghy (nostalgia?). Funny thing is that some summers I actually catch more of those little bluefish fro mmy sailboat than from the power boats!
    We have become catch and release anglers now, but I still enjoy the action of snapper blue fishing ,with the rare treat of having a small striper grab my lure. I never have caught a “legal-size” striper, the biggest was 21″ back when 36″ was the minimum, but the thrill of landing even a small striper is still exciting!

    Anyway, my point is that despite my low-impact fishing habbits…… it would take a lot more than $500 to get me to give up my right to fish. I maybe spend $50 or less each year on my fishing tackle, even less right now…since I’m out of work, but I grew up in a world where saltwater fishing was virtually a God-given, no one can take it away from me privilaged right. When the snapper blues are boiling all around my boat…… $500 is NOT going to be enough to repay me for that loss of a traditional enjoyment!!

    The other part of this misguided “experiment” here in “Taxachusetts” is a survey asking how much we would be willing to pay for a saltwater fishing permit………. well, to me $10.00 (present fee) is too much! However, I consider that a price that I’m willing to pay. My intense fear is that the above question is an indication that contrary to what they said last year………. the cost of a permit may skyrocket soon. Well, I think we were all affraid that would happen as soon as they “hooked” us on hte initial permit…….. but, how much can the cost of a permit rise before far too many anglers say “NO!” and stop fishing…….stop buying tackle…..stop buying bait…….stop using the local ramps (not fishing won’t stop me from boating, but what about the person who only uses their boat for fishing trips??)

    ‘Nuf said!

  2. enginecom

    Looks like the bird and bunny people are now fish huggers. The demoncrats are controlling most of government and tend to frown on hooking “sea kittens”. Maybe it’s PETA who is pushing this so called study. I can predict the outcome without millions in grants. The recreational boating and fishing industry will suffer in proportion to the amount of people who take this money to not fish. A valid study would be to pay for catch and release in order to study what is caught, when and where. To get paid by a study to report valid data would help recreational fishing not curtail it.

  3. George Andrews

    Sad that the commercial fishing industry continues to destroy our fisheries and everything in the way, while the guy who pays his fair share takes the brunt. Stop hurting the little guy!!

    Fish and game has never managed a thing properly to begin with. That is why its easy for them to shut things competely. This is a joke. I would not give up my right to fish for a million dollars.

  4. RMC

    Unfortunately this is a whole new breed of environmental extremists. They have the horsepower and “science” behind them to do the unthinkable. If it was up to these people, they would fence the oceans to keep us out.

    In 2009, former Vice-Chairwoman of Environmental Defense Fund, Inc., Dr. Jane Lubchenco was named the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator by President Barack Obama. She is the head of NOAA.

    The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a not-for-profit environmental advocacy group based in the United States. Curiously, Lubchenco’s tenure at EDF is omitted from her extensive resume in her 500 word biographical information on the NOAA Web page.

  5. RKF

    Can’t say too many bad things about the federal poiticians from Massachusetts. Before Ted Kennedy passed he was fighting for fishermen’s rights with the help of Mr. Kerry and Mr. Frank. Since he has taken office Senator Brown has also waved both the recreational and commercial fishermen’s flag. All have expressed their concern about NOAA’s leadership to no avail, All three plus several other bi-partisan congressmen and several governers have asked Mr. Obama to replace Dr. Lubchenco and all that they have received in return is a big smile and a pat on the back. (Got to keep the Enviro’s cash flow coming even though their policies have led to thousands of local Fisheries, Marine and Tackle as well as all the trickle down jobs lost along both coastlines)

    All three Massachusetts leaders plus another twenty or so from congress will be on hand to address everyone attending the “Keep Fishermen Fishing” rally this Wednesday, March 21, in Washington expressing their concern about NOAA’s and the NMFS’s concern for Fishes Rights not Fishermen’s Rights.

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