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ASA chief warns: ‘Fishing needs to change’

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American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President and CEO, Mike Nussman: Warning to the industry.

One of fishing’s most influential figures has stressed that the sport needs to change to attract more ethnic groups and younger people.

President and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), Mike Nussman, said that recruitment is becoming increasingly important to the future of angling.

Speaking at The National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) annual conference in Wisconsin, Nussman told delegates: “We as a sport are changing. We need to broaden our appeal to reach all ethnic groups.”

The conference’s keynote speaker explained that anglers are 95% Caucasian males, but that in 35 years’ time only 50% of the US population will be Caucasian. “We have the opportunity to attract so many more people and we all need to work together to do this.”

Nussman also pointed out the importance of the youth sector, revealing that the percentage of six to 15-year-olds fishing has dropped from 40% in 1990 to 26% today.

“Kids don’t have to go outside to be entertained and we all know why that is,” he said. “We are not allowing them to experience the outdoors. We must create a machine to attract new people and research has shown that longer-term camps and schools really immerse youngsters into the sport. They become proficient and capable of striking out on their own after these events.”

Nussman applauded the NPAA Future Angler events, which attracted 14,420 youths and 6,846 parents last year.

But he stressed that educating and attracting the next generation of fishermen was an immense challenge, saying that 49% of anglers purchase a licence only once every ten years and, startlingly, only four per cent of anglers bought a licence in each of the past ten years.

NPAA Executive Director Pat Neu said: “We have barely scratched the surface of what we can do. Our goal is to attract more members, and supporting partners can also help in this.”

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