Study: Sportfishing Faces Threat of “Death Spiral”

The California Sportfishing League has released a study that finds that the high cost of purchasing an “annual” recreational fishing license has proven to be a formidable barrier to access and has contributed to an unprecedented decline in recreational fishing.


This comprehensive study may be the first time an effort has been made to compare the cost and value of annual fishing licenses, state-by-state. The results provide California policy makers an insight as to how costly annual fishing licenses are impacting participation rates, and how it could harm the State’s economy and communities dependent on recreational fishing for $4.6 billion in economic activity each year.

The study finds that, since 1980, annual recreational fishing license sales have declined by over 56% in a state that has witnessed a near 60% increase in population. It also reaches an alarming conclusion that there could be less than 500,000 annual licenses sold by 2027 – a 77% decline from 1980.

“The dramatic decline in fishing participation should be a wakeup call for California anglers and state politicians,” said Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the California Sportfishing League. “If the State recognizes recreational fishing’s economic value, it will need to take immediate action to stop a rapidly-declining participation rate from turning into an out-of-control death spiral. Reforming a costly and antiquated licensing program, and lifting unwarranted restrictions on fishing, is the first step to protecting a great form of family recreation that supports jobs and our state’s economy.”

Click here to read the study.

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