Alexandria, VA – December 9, 2016. President Obama recently signed the REC Act into law and it could be a game-changer for those of us that enjoy the sport of fishing. Officially known as the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, the REC Act directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the Department of Commerce to assess and analyze the outdoor recreation industry and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy.
That may not sound like a big deal, but it is. While sometimes considered frivolous fun, outdoor recreation is actually a massive economic driver. As an industry, a recent study showed that we support 6.1 million jobs and generate $646 billion annually. But it gets even more incredible – when outdoor recreation ripples through the economy, we’re talking about $1.6 TRILLION in economic impact and over 12 million jobs.
Every year, anglers contribute $1.5 billion towards conservation. With the passing of the REC Act and the requirement that the federal government official recognize outdoor recreation as a major sector of the economy, conservation and stewardship of our land and water can now be demonstrated as part of economic development in America. We have a strength that cannot be ignored in future policy and legislative decisions.
The REC Act forces the BEA to analyze the economics of our industry (at no additional cost to taxpayers, by the way). Once that initial analysis is complete, we could become the sixth economic sector tracked by the Department of Commerce.
So when our elected officials see the importance of outdoor recreation in their district – jobs, revenue, taxes collected, contributions made – you can bet those numbers will get their attention. Imagine someone trying to close public water to fishing because they don’t the sound of boat engines. The decision-makers are going look at those economic numbers and think twice. And while these changes will help us protect what we have, it also means more funding for stocking and conservation programs, new boat ramps, and more and better access to prime fishing spots.
In short, the increased visibility the REC Act brings means more and better fishing for you and me. And that’s a very good thing.
Through policy, science and conservation, the Government Affairs team of the American Sportfishing Association works to minimize access restrictions, promote clean waters and restore fish populations. That’s where Keep America Fishing and anetwork of nearly 1 million supporters comes in.
Keep America Fishing gives you – the public – a place to learn about the issues we’re facing, unite our efforts as a community, and present a strong voice. When millions of Americans come together and ask our political leaders to vote in favor of recreational fishing, they will listen.