Recreational Fishing in Washington State: Big Business

Business owners who depend on and benefit from recreational fishing for salmon and shellfish formed Fish Northwest in 2005. Fish Northwest believes that the State of Washington can do much more to increase recreational fishing opportunity, while at the same time protecting and enhancing our salmon and shellfish. We also believe that achieving this goal will not affect tribal treaty fishing rights and is compatible with commercial salmon fishing.

The organizers of Fish Northwest believe that the primary reason why the State of Washington has not made recreational fishing for salmon and shellfish a priority is because of the lack of understanding regarding the economic value of recreational fishing. The following information clearly demonstrates that recreational fishing is in fact a very important business in the State of Washington. It also illustrates why it is in our state's interest to develop policies and programs that promote the growth and development of recreational fishing.

Increasing Pacific Northwest Recreational Fishing
Promoting the Conservation and Recovery of Salmon

The Economic Value of Boating

In 2005, Washington ranked 16th in the nation with 266,056 registered boats. Based on survey results from the Seattle Boat Show from 2002-2006 over 65 percent of boat owner's use their boat for fishing. Furthermore, of those who use their boat for fishing nearly 63 percent list fishing as an important to very important reason for owning a boat. What does this mean economically?

  • Boat Building - There are 71 companies building boats in Washington. They annually generate over 1 billion dollars in sales and employ over 4,700 people.
  • Paid Taxes - In 2005 boaters paid the state over 92 million dollars in direct taxes and fees.
  • Sales - Based on information gathered from the State Department of Revenue and Washington School of Marine Affairs it is estimated that in 2005 the "recreational marine industry" contributed 3.7 billion dollars in direct, indirect and induced gross sales.

The Economic Value of Recreational Fishing

In 2001 the Department of Fish and Wildlife sold 908,727 fishing licenses. In 2005 the figure was 774,390. This information tells two important stories. One is that nearly one out of three people in the state directly enjoy recreational fishing. The second is that the trend line for participation in recreational fishing is going down. We believe the decline in participation is the result of a decline in fishing opportunity due, in large part, to the lack of a clear state policy regarding the importance and value of recreational fishing.

Again, what does this mean economically? In 2003, the most recent year for which economic information for recreational fishing in Washington State is available, we find the following:

  • Retail sales: $847,227,015
  • Salaries and Wages: $379,044,887
  • Jobs: 14,506
  • Sales and Motor Fuel Taxes: $61,046,557
  • Federal Income Taxes: $63,258,562

Fish Northwest believes we can significantly increase the opportunity and participation in recreational fishing. We can begin this process by recognizing the importance of recreational fishing to the economy. In addition, we need policies, programs and leadership at the state level. Fish Northwest is committed to working with those in our state who share our vision. There is no reason why the State of Washington can't once again be the salmon fishing capital of the west coast.

P.O. Box 31010
Seattle, WA 98103