The debate over which sector -- commercial or recreational fishing -- provides the bigger economic punch can finally be put to rest.
The annual "Fisheries Economics of the U.S." report by the Department of Commerce shows for once and for all that in terms of values, jobs, sales and incomes, the commercial sector far outscores recreational fishing.
A breakdown of the extensive report by market analyst John Sackton shows that in 2012, commercial fishing had $140 billion in sales compared to $58 billion for sport fishing. And for the value contributed to the national economy, commercial fishing added nearly $60 billion, double the recreational sector.
In terms of jobs, the seafood industry employed 1.27 million people compared to 380,000 for sports anglers. The most striking difference, Sackton said, is in where those people are employed. In sport fishing, they are building boats and engines, representing 82 percent of both employment and sales, and the work is very regionally concentrated. The NOAA report added that less than 20 percent of the jobs in the sport industry are for guiding, boat operators, tackle shops and various rentals.