More states involved in National Fishing and Boating Week than ever
As part of National Fishing and Boating Week, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) is working with more states than ever to get anglers on the water, according to Frank Peterson, president of the RBFF.
Peterson said 40 states are offering free fishing weekends this week as part of an effort to create longtime, license-buying boaters.
With each license sale, associated excise taxes fund various conservation efforts – the primary goal of the week’s activities, according to Peterson.
“Without the participation of fishers, boaters and hunters, there wouldn’t be many of the great things we have today outdoors,” he said.
For states like Michigan that are dependent on the boating and fishing industry, free fishing weekends can help pique the interest of younger generations. Funding conservation efforts is the primary goal, but the chance these new fishers may evolve into boat owners is another benefit, according to John Ropp, president of the Michigan Boating Industries Association.
“It takes the barrier of a license away,” Ropp said. “You are hoping that family bond grows, grandpa takes grandson fishing, and if they end up buying a fishing boat or whatever, it is great for the industry.”
Peterson attributed much of the record-setting state cooperation to more coordinated outreach through its takemefishing.com campaign.
“I remember five years ago I was just doing a bunch of radio interviews. We have made great strides since then,” Peterson said.
The campaign’s Facebook page has 82,000 likes, with 10 to 15 percent actively interacting and contributing to the site, according to Peterson.
The week kicked off Monday in Washington, where 350 inner-city kids received free fishing equipment and fished at the National Mall. Peterson said similar giveaway events targeting youth are taking place nationwide.
The payoff for the RBFF and state associations will come in future fishing license sales, which contribute dollars permanently appropriated for programs preserving the nation’s natural resources. The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act first directed this funding in 1937.
“At a time when people are knocking government, here is a program that has worked perfectly for 75 years,” Peterson said.