New York's Freshwater Sportfisheries Generate More Than $2 Billion a Year and Support More Than 10,000 Jobs
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the state's world-class fishing opportunities continue to draw anglers from near and far to New York's many productive freshwater sportfisheries. New data on angler effort, patterns, preferences, and attitudes was released today as part of DEC's statewide survey of freshwater anglers, which helps DEC assess both the biological and human dimension aspects of managing New York's freshwater fisheries.
"New York is privileged to have an amazing diversity of freshwater resources," Commissioner Seggos said. "From remote Adirondack brook trout streams and ponds to the magnificent Great Lakes, our state's freshwater fisheries are among the very best in North America. DEC is committed to effectively managing these resources to maintain high-quality angling opportunities and the recreational and economic benefits they provide. These survey results reinforce what New Yorkers already know-freshwater angling in New York State is not only alive and well, it's thriving-and this survey will help guide our efforts in the years to come."
New York State offers world class fishing for a wide variety of cold water and warm water species. Whether it is smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Erie, brook trout fishing on a crystal-clear Adirondack lake, Pacific salmon fishing on Lake Ontario, fishing for stripers on the Hudson River, brown trout fishing on the Beaver Kill or fishing for panfish on a local pond, there is something special in New York for every angler. In its 2019 rankings, and for the first time ever, Bassmaster Magazine named the St. Lawrence River as the top bass fishing destination in the nation.
DEC has surveyed its licensed freshwater anglers once every decade since 1973. The survey announced today was conducted in 2018, and summarizes the input provided by approximately 11,000 anglers that fished the freshwaters of New York State during the 2017 calendar year.
Combined direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of freshwater angling in New York State totaled an estimated $2.14 billion and supported 10,961 jobs in 2017. Of this total, out-of-state anglers contributed approximately 26 percent, or $564 million. Freshwater anglers spent an estimated $252 million at New York fishing destinations in 2017, and an additional $204 million was expended at home or while traveling to fishing destinations. Purchases of fishing equipment and fishing-related equipment such as boats, motors, etc., generated an estimated $1.8 billion in additional expenditures.
Results of the survey revealed significant increases in angler effort for a number of waters when compared to a 2007 angler survey. The Saranac River experienced the greatest increase in angler effort (150 percent) as more anglers visited to fish primarily for smallmouth bass and brown trout. There was an increase of 141 percent in the number of anglers fishing Irondequoit Creek, a Lake Ontario tributary near Rochester, with a focus primarily on brown trout and steelhead. The Delaware River in southeastern New York has long been popular for trout fishing, and angler effort increased by about 140 percent from 2007. Conesus Lake saw an increase of 155 percent in angler activity, with northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass among the lake's most popular species. Other waterbodies that experienced a marked increase in angling activity included Whitney Point Reservoir (76 percent), Lake Champlain (72 percent), and the Batten Kill (61 percent).
Freshwater anglers enjoyed an estimated 19.89 million angler days in 2017 in New York's inland and Great Lakes waters, slightly more than a similar survey conducted for 2007. Many anglers fished for warmwater gamefish (44 percent), primarily largemouth and smallmouth bass. Coldwater gamefish were also popular (28 percent), including brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, steelhead, and Chinook salmon. Anglers fished primarily on inland lakes and ponds (49 percent), inland streams and rivers (25 percent), and the Great Lakes and their tributaries (22 percent).
In his 2020 State of the State Address (leaves DEC website), Governor Cuomo proposed the Restore Mother Nature initiative, the nation's most aggressive program for significant habitat restoration and flood reduction. Restore Mother Nature will reduce flood risk and revitalize critical fish and wildlife habitats by connecting streams and waterways, right-sizing culverts and dams, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, reclaiming natural floodplains, restocking shellfish populations and upgrading fish hatcheries, preserving open space, conserving more forest areas, replanting more trees, reducing contamination from agricultural and stormwater runoff, and expanding renewable energy. One of the goals of the initiative is to make New York the top state for recreational fishing. As part of a proposed $3 billion Environmental Bond Act, New York would invest in its world-class fish hatcheries. The Governor's program will also improve New York's network of fishing access sites, hand launch boat sites, and public fishing rights with an emphasis on warmwater streams and rivers.
Full results of DEC's Statewide Angler Survey can be found at DEC's website.