The Economic Impact of Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Florida is the "Fishing Capital of the WorldExternal Website with more world record fish catches than any other state or country. From an economic perspective, Florida also leads all states in economic impacts for its marine recreational fisheries and has one of the top producing commercial fisheries in the country. Below are several statistics about Florida's recreational and commercial fishing industries and their economic role. 

Saltwater Recreational Fishing


  • #1 in nation in saltwater anglers (2.4 million) – 2011 USFWS Survey, as compiled by Southwick Associates


  • 1,612,102 recreational saltwater licenses sold (resident and nonresident) in fiscal year 13/14
  • $35,528,631 in revenue generated in FY 13/14


  • Economic impact:
    • Saltwater recreational fishing- $7.6 billion,

    • Supports: 109,341 job                                                                (Source: National Marine Fisheries Service, 2014 report, using 2012 NOAA data)
  • Florida #1 in angler (fresh and saltwater) expenditures -2011 USFWS Survey information, as compiled by Southwick



  • Florida #1 in number of International Game Fish records

Total Florida Records (including retired records): 4,444

Total Current Records (international): 7,399

Current Records from USA: 3,447

Current Records from Florida: 1,061


Top Five Countries(current records)

  1. USA – 3,447
  2. Australia – 493
  3. Japan – 378
  4. Mexico – 289
  5. New Zealand – 287

Top Five States(current records)

  1. Florida – 1,061
  2. California – 339
  3. Alaska – 304
  4. Texas – 197
  5. New York – 147

Saltwater Commercial Fishing


  • 12,681 Saltwater Products Licenses sold, generating revenue for the state totaling $937,450 – 2013/14 Fiscal Year (SPL only, does not include RS or MS

  • 9,892 individual commercial SPL accounts (commercial fishermen) 14/15 FY – 5/21/2015

  • 8,555 individual commercial SPL accounts 15/16 FY as of 9/29/2015

  • 1,595 wholesale dealers (1 license per person) and there were 5,637 retail dealer licenses sold generating $799,700 in revenue. – 2013/14 FY


  • Florida 11th state in commercial landings with over 86 million pounds, and

  • Seventh in ex-vessel value at $170 million. - 2008 NOAA Fisheries

  • Florida's commercial fishery second largest in nation generating $12 million in in-state sales

 Landings Data

The top 4 species in dockside value harvested during 2012 in Florida were: 

  • stone crab (claws:  $25 M),
  • Caribbean spiny lobster ($24 M),  
  • white shrimp ($17.2 M; total food shrimp value all species $36.9 M),
  • red grouper ($16.8 M).

2012 Florida commercial landings:

  • 235,133 commercial fishing trips caught approximately 93 million (M) pounds of fish, crab, clams (wild harvest only, excludes aquaculture), lobster, shrimp, and other invertebrates worth over $205 M in dockside value. 
  • Marine life landings (live fish and invertebrates for aquaria and other uses) from 5,897 commercial collecting trips in 2012 amounted to 9.8 M individual specimens worth nearly $3.5 M in dockside value.


From the NOAA Fisheries of the United States 2011 report

  • Americans consumed 4.7 billion pounds of seafood in 2011, slightly less than the 4.9 billion pounds the previous year. The United States has surpassed Japan and is now second only to China in seafood consumption.
  • The average American ate 15.0 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2011, a decline from the 2010 figure of 15.8 pounds.
  • About 91 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported, measured by edible weight, up 5 percent from 2010. However, a significant portion of this imported seafood is caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing, and then reimported to the United States.


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