Rick HirschThe following is a prepared statement given by Rick Hirsch, an avid Boca Grande angler and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust representative, to the Federal Wildlife Commission at their Thursday, Sept. 6 meeting in Tampa regarding Charlotte Harbor.
Thank you Chairman Wright, FWC (Fish and Wildlife Conservation) Commissioners and hard-working staff. I appreciate the years you have devoted towards the protection of Florida’s ecosystems, its fisheries and specifically the Boca Grande tarpon issue.
For tarpon fishing, nowhere in the world is more renowned than Southwest Florida. Recreational tarpon fishing in Charlotte Harbor provides an enormous economic foundation to the area.
Two years ago The Everglades Foundation partnered with Bonefish & Tarpon Trust in order to estimate the economic impact associated with recreational tarpon fishing in the harbor. They commissioned Dr. Tony Fedler to conduct a study to determine exactly how much money tarpon fishing generates in Charlotte Harbor. Dr. Fedler has extensive experience as a fisheries economist and statistician.
Fedler determined that the economic impact of tarpon fishing in Charlotte Harbor was $108 million in a 12 month period of 2009 and 2010.
He surveyed only the active licensed anglers in the four counties that border Charlotte Harbor. The counties were Charlotte, Collier, Lee and Sarasota. He found that 26,900 resident licensed anglers spent at least one day fishing for ONLY tarpon.
Here are some highlights:
• His $108 million estimate was for just resident anglers and therefore didn’t include any people traveling from anywhere else to Charlotte Harbor to fish for tarpon.
• These resident anglers spent 268,000 fishing days targeting just tarpon during the one-year period.
• The tarpon anglers spent an average of $237 per day, or $2,365 each per year in aggregate direct expenditures. This extrapolates to $63,500,000 for the year.
• Indirect expenditures were an additional $45,000,000. The grand total again was $108 million for that 12 month period. Charlotte Harbor’s tarpon fishing also generated $8 million in federal taxes and $6.5 million in state and local taxes.
• The survey results are considered extremely conservative because 1) only four counties were included and 2) the survey took place during the depth of the financial recession in 2009 and 2010.
• I have a few detailed copies of Dr. Fedler’s full study.
Any destructive fishing techniques or harassing tactics will surely damage the tarpon fishery in Boca Grande Pass and thus Charlotte Harbor. Appropriate FWC rules will conserve, and in fact enhance, this world famous tarpon population. New FWC policies will help avoid the tarpon collapse that occurred in Port Aransas, Texas which was once known as “The Tarpon Capital of the World.” New rules will also protect the huge economic engine that recreational tarpon fishing provides to Charlotte Harbor’s economy.
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