Fisheries program supports 68,000 jobs in United States

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Fishing for work: A recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services claimed that its fisheries program, in association with other agencies, contributes $3.6 billion to the nation's economy. | File photo

The fisheries program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in association with state agencies and other conservation organizations, contributes $3.6 billion to the nation’s economy and supports 68,000 jobs across the country, according to a new report issued by the agency.

The service’s Midwest Region Fisheries Program, comprised of five National Fish Hatcheries, six Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices, two Sea Lamprey Control Stations, and a Fish Health Center, generated nearly $800 million in economic contributions in fiscal year 2010.

“The conservation efforts of our Midwest Region Fisheries offices, hatcheries and program, are major contributors to the recreational and commercial fishing provided by our Great Lakes and river systems, which in turn generate big business for local economies in the Midwest,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius.

The report, “Conserving America’s Fisheries, An Assessment of Economic Contributions from Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation,” shows that each dollar invested in the service’s Fisheries Program, combined with its partners, generates about $28 in economic contributions and value.

Midwest perspective

Based on this $28:1 return on investment, economic values of Midwest Region Fisheries Program activities include:

$246.4 million from Midwest Region National Fish Hatcheries and Fish Health Center

- Based on $8.8 million invested in operations and maintenance in fiscal year 2010

- In fiscal year 2010, National Fish Hatcheries in the Midwest Region distributed 16.4 million fish and 22.8 million eggs for stocking purposes, with an emphasis on native species including lake trout, brook trout, sturgeon and walleye. Hatcheries also produced and distributed more than 1.5 million native mussels, including two federally endangered species.

$322 million from Midwest Region Sea Lamprey Control Stations

- Based on $11.5 million invested in operations in fiscal year 2010

- In fiscal year 2010, the service’s Sea Lamprey Control Stations in the Midwest Region treated 78 stream sites to control larval sea lamprey infestations, operated and maintained 30 barriers to block spawning runs of adult sea lamprey, collected more than 21,000 lampreys from 20 streams for sterile male operations, and reduced sea lamprey spawning populations in two of five Great Lakes.

$229.6 million from Midwest Region Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices

- Based on $8.2 million invested in operations in fiscal year 2010

- In fiscal year 2010, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Offices in the Midwest Region, working with partners, removed or bypassed 32 fish passage barriers opening 1,012 miles to uninhibited fish access. The program also restored 120 miles of stream and shoreline habitat.

National perspective

Overall, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation contribute an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year. One in 20 U.S. jobs are in the recreation economy — more than there are doctors, lawyers, or teachers.

The economic contributions generated are evidenced at sporting goods stores, marinas, guides and outfitter services, boat dealerships, bait shops, gas stations, cafes, hotels, and many other enterprises.

The report — the first time that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service economists have analyzed the economic contributions of the nation’s fisheries programs — finds that a total of 68,000 American jobs are associated, directly or indirectly, with the fisheries conservation programs and projects.

“Since 1871, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Program has been a leader in managing species, conserving habitat and sustaining the biological health of America’s aquatic resources,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These resources are inextricably tied to the health and wealth of our nation. These benefits are ecological, scientific, aesthetic, recreational, commercial, subsistence, social, cultural – and economic in nature.”

The report also shows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Hatchery System alone generates $900 million in industrial output and $550 million in retail sales. National Fish Hatchery programs generate 8,000 jobs and $256 million in salaries and wages.

Meanwhile, the National Fish Passage Program works with partners to reopen an average of 890 miles of river habitat annually, which has a economic value of $483 million and supports 11,000 jobs. That is more than $542,000 in economic benefit per stream mile restored.

The service’s Fisheries Program plays a vital role in conserving America’s fisheries, along with key partners from states, tribes, federal agencies, other service programs, and private interests.

The fisheries program consists of almost 800 employees nationwide, located in 65 Fish and Wildlife Conservation offices, 70 national fish hatcheries, nine fish health centers, seven fish technology centers and a Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives.

The program supports the only federal fish hatchery system, with extensive experience culturing more than 100 different aquatic species.

For more information

For the full report and report summary, and to view project examples from the Midwest Region Fisheries Program, visit http://fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/economicreport.