RBFF celebrates 20 years of bringing anglers and boaters together
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This month, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) turned 20 years old. A lot has happened in that time and the organisation says it is happy to have been a large part of the fishing and boating landscape.
Through various campaigns, programmes, partnerships and grants, RBFF has been able to make a lasting mark on the industry.
RBFF was formed at a time when the fishing community was in a period of unease in the USA. A new report had revealed fishing participation was on a downward trend.
Something had to be done, and RBFF was the answer. Since its inception, it has worked to educate consumers, bring them to the water to try fishing and boating, keep them active, and work with state fish and wildlife agencies and the industry to bring lapsed participants back.
The great news is that RBFF is making an impact. Today, fishing participation in the States sits at 49.1 million – up nearly 20% over the last ten years to the highest level since 1991, before RBFF was formed.
Fishing participation has now risen for two straight years and over the past decade, fishing license sales are up 4.3%. With fishing being the number one activity done from a boat, RBFF is happy to report that boating participation is up to 142 million, or 36% of the U.S. population – great news for the fishing industry.
“RBFF’s greatest contribution has been elevating, not just the importance of marketing within the minds of people within the fishing community, but educating the industry on how to do it,” said Rob Southwick, President of Southwick Associates. “About 20 years ago, state fish and wildlife agencies didn’t even know what marketing was. We’re at the point now where they are hiring marketing professionals and implementing marketing techniques. RBFF has been a catalyst for that all along, encouraging them to keep moving forward, and the results have been very obvious.”
Critical to RBFF’s success has been the inclusion of emerging audiences in the foundation’s marketing, communications and programmes. As the United States continues to grow more diverse each year, effectively engaging these audiences will prove more and more critical to the industry’s success. Encouragingly, RBFF’s work in this area is resonating.
Female anglers accounted for 45% of new participants and Hispanic participation is at its highest level (4.2 million) since data on this segment was first collected.
When asked about the future of the fishing industry, American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President Glenn Hughes said: “Over the next 20 years we will see participation grow to well over 60 million Americans, and many more worldwide. This participation will lead to more revenue to support conservation efforts across all states, providing for better fishing and boating opportunities, which will then, in turn, provide even more access and quality fishing to more Americans.
“RBFF will be the leading voice, engaging new and returning anglers, educating them on how and where to fish, and connecting them with partners and resources, whether locally, regionally or nationally.”
“The last 20 years have been both challenging and fulfilling, and we’re not taking any breaks. We are planning to make the next 20 even more impactful,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “From the crew at RBFF, we look forward to continuing to improve the landscape for fishing and boating for generations to come. Thank you for your continued support.”