Southwick Study Data Makes Strong Case for Striper Gamefish Status
Managing wild saltwater fish as gamefish for recreational/personal use while replacing commercial harvest with farm-raised fish makes economic sense. Though striped bass have gamefish status in 6 of 13 coastal states from Maine to South Carolina, there is a growing need to take this popular sportfish off the commercial market.
Remember when stripers collapsed? Gamefish status would ensure "stripers forever."
Stripers Forever, a non-profit, largely volunteer corporation that seeks gamefish status for wild striped bass, commissioned Southwick Associates, a supplier of socio-economic data to government and industry, to provide the hard numbers that show the far greater economic returns produced by recreational fishing compared to that of commercial fishing.
Southwick?s study reveals some eye-opening statistics on striped bass, among the most popular gamefish from Maine to South Carolina. Based on data for the year 2003, the study found that 3,018,361 recreational anglers made a total of 11,133,276 trips for wild striped bass along the U.S. Atlantic coast. That generated direct retail sales of $2.41 billion, spent on tackle, boats, motors, guides, travel and food. The total economic activity (including 63,278 full-time jobs) was more than 55.9 times greater than revenues generated by commercial harvest of wild stripers.
Striper gamefish status would not prevent non-fishing consumers from enjoying fresh stripers on the table. In fact, in 2003 aquaculture produced 11.447 million pounds of striped bass. That total is 61.6 percent greater than the 7.085 million pounds taken the same year by commercial fishermen. The per-pound prices of wild fish and the farm-raised product were essentially the same, which suggests that consumers consider the two to be equal in quality. The fact that the production of striped bass farms has increased by 222 percent over the last decade also suggests that this industry is able to expand to meet consumer demand.
Stripers Forever supports state and federal legislation that would eliminate all commercial take of striped bass throughout their range, and is in favor of the sale of a dedicated recreational striper stamp to fund a buyout of commercial fishermen who can document that a significant portion of their income is derived from historical landings of wild stripers.
For more information on Stripers Forever, and to view the Southwick Study, visit www.stripersforever.org