Commercial vs. sport fishing
California and British Columbia have recently completed thorough studies of the economic benefits of commercial and sport fishing. Both studies found that the value of a sport-caught salmon far exceeds the value of a commercial-caught salmon.
Most sports anglers have known this intuitively, but many of us were surprised to learn the vast difference in economic benefit from each industry. Consider the following facts revealed by these two government sponsored studies.
In British Columbia, the sport fishing industry creates approximately 5,990 person-years of employment. The entire commercial fishery creates only 1,060 person-years of employment. Yet, the commercial industry catches 431,000 chinook and 2,556,000 coho, while the far more important sport fishery takes only 239,000 chinook and 507,000 coho.
In California, the recreational fishery created more than $5 billion in personal income and created 154,000 jobs compared to $701 million and 21,000 jobs from the commercial fishing industry.
The British Columbia study found that the total revenue per salmon caught by sports anglers was nearly $500, while the total revenue per commercial caught fish was less than $7.00.
These two studies prove that commercial fishermen take a disproportionate share of the resource while providing very little economic benefit to the state. Any rational analysis of these two studies would conclude that the highest and best use of our resources would be sport fishing. Commercial fishing should occur only after adequate escapement goals are met and after native and sport fishing needs are fully met.
Perhaps our commercial fishing fleet already knew these things. Perhaps that's why they spent so much money on a disinformation campaign to stop Initiative 640, which among other things called for a study to determine the best use of Washington's fisheries resources.
Dave Vedder, Woodinville