NOAA supports sport fishing and boating in the United States

Chris Oliver & Nicole Laboeuf


Caption: Boating and fishing in national marine reserves provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the ocean and the Great Lakes, give families time to network, and help young people better understand marine life.

Credit: Sanctuary Classic

Sport fishing and boating are two of America’s favorite pastimes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) works every day to support and promote safe, enjoyable, and sustainable outdoor recreation in our nation’s coastal and ocean waters. Sustainable recreational fishing and boating is a win-win situation. Both enrich the lives of millions of Americans on the water and provide incredible economic benefits to our coastal communities.

At NOAA, we understand that our coastal, Great Lakes, and offshore waters are not just a weekend playground, but the foundation for a big and vibrant blue economy. In 2016, outdoor recovery accounted for 2.2% of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) and recorded growth that outpaced the entire US economy (1.7% versus 1.6% in 2016, the Bureau’s satellite account of Economic Analysis for Outdoor Recreation). In the same year, marine fishermen spent over $ 30 billion on durable goods and fishing trips, and contributed around $ 38.7 billion to GDP. (NOAA Fisheries, United States Fisheries Economics 2016). According to the latest estimates by NOAA Fisheries, 472,000 jobs are supported by recreational saltwater fishing (NOAA Fisheries, Fisheries Economics of the United States 2016). These jobs support the economy in all coastal states and areas and strengthen families and communities – not just for the industry workers, but also for the millions of their grateful customers.

We are increasingly partnering with the recreational fishing and boating community to promote sustainable outdoor recreation. On February 15, 2019, NOAA Fisheries and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries signed a Memorandum of Agreement with four private sector organizations, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the American Sportfishing Association, and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Association of Fish and Fishing Wildlife agencies. The agreement creates a formal framework for government and private sector communication and collaboration to promote sustainable recreational fishing and boating activities.

Clean and healthy water and the wildlife they support are fundamental to the excitement of boating and fishing – they make our time on the water relaxing and memorable. The NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is responsible for the health of some of America’s most famous bodies of water. The benefits of the National Marine Sanctuaries System go beyond ecosystem services and great places. You might be surprised to learn that 98 percent of the waters in national marine reserves are open for recreational fishing. In all national marine reserves, local coastal and ocean dependent economies generate approximately $ 8 billion annually from various activities such as research, recreational and commercial fishing, and other recreational and tourism activities.

In addition to the National Marine Protected Areas, NOAA supports the administration of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a network of state-administered protected areas where rivers meet the sea. Many of these locations are major recreational boating and fishing spots. Promoting the sustainable and responsible use of natural resources is a long-term goal that we all share. We need to ensure that current and future generations of boaters and anglers can enjoy these.

NOAA’s work to support boating and fishing doesn’t stop there. Many more of our offices offer boaters and anglers services that make recreation safer and more enjoyable.

  • Recreational boaters and anglers use NOAA nautical charts, tide tables, and real-time data on sea and weather conditions to navigate safely and efficiently. NOAA provides navigation information both through its own programs and through the support of regional and local observation networks.
  • Recreational boaters and anglers can use our website to create custom maps that are tailored to their float plans.
  • Our coastal zone management program helps states improve access to beaches and boat ramps by providing financial and technical support for infrastructure and public information products.
  • At the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA is exploring the use of intelligent buoy technology to bring information from fishing and boating regulations to images of recreational opportunities below the waterline right to your phone. The buoys could also provide weather, shipwrecks, tides, fishing conditions, etc.
  • Recreational boaters and the general public can access the location of right whales in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary through the Whale Alert app on their smartphones thanks to a series of 10 automated audible detection buoys.
  • NOAA’s coral reef information system can be used by recreational boaters, divers and others to learn where and how to explore coral reefs.
  • NOAA also offers the public the ability to monitor the location of harmful algal blooms and use this information to expand their travel plans.

At NOAA, we continue to be committed to promoting, supporting, and improving broad and diverse access to sustainable recreational fishing and boating activities for the benefit and enjoyment of the nation. We encourage everyone to explore the abundance of activities in our nation’s coastal waters and enjoy this time with your family and friends. This week, keep an eye on the websites and social media accounts of our various offices to learn more about what NOAA is doing to support sustainable recreational fishing and boating.

For more information, visit the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries website or the NOAA Fisheries website.

See you on the water!

Chris Oliver & Nicole Laboeuf

Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, Mr. Oliver oversees the management and conservation of recreational and commercial fisheries, including aspects of marine aquaculture, the conservation and preservation of safe sources of seafood, and the protection of marine mammals, marine protected species and habitats for inshore fishing in the US exclusive economic zone. He also runs an agency with a strong national presence and 3,200 employees in five regional offices, six science centers, and 24 laboratories and fish stations in 15 states and US territories. Mr. Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for 16 years. Originally from Rockport, Texas, he has a Bachelor of Business Administration and Masters in Fisheries Science, both from Texas A&M. Mr. Oliver enjoys many outdoor activities and is an avid hunter and fisherman.

Nicole LeBoeuf is the assistant administrative assistant for the National Ocean Service (NOS) of NOAA, the most comprehensive maritime and coastal agency in the country. Its mission is to provide scientifically sound solutions through collaborative partnerships to counter the evolving economic, ecological and social pressures on our oceans and coasts. As Deputy Administrative Assistant, Ms. LeBoeuf leads the implementation of NOS’s priorities for safe and efficient transport and trade. Readiness and risk mitigation; and administration, tourism and recreation. Ms. LeBoeuf is actively building and expanding partnerships with other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and industry. Ms. LeBoeuf holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in sustainable development and conservation biology from the University of Maryland. Ms. LeBoeuf grew up on the Gulf Coast and continues to enjoy spending time on the water outdoors with her husband, stepchildren, and her hunting dog.


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