THURSDAY, Aug. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Recreational fishing accounts for almost a quarter of the total take of depleted saltwater fish species in the United States, including economically important species such as red snapper, red drum, lingcod and bocaccio.
That's the conclusion of a study published Aug. 26 in the journal Science, which contradicts the popular belief that recreational fishing accounts for only two to three percent of total fish landings in the United States and has much less impact than commercial fishing.
"The conventional wisdom is that recreational fishing is a small proportion of the total take, so it is largely overlooked," study lead author Felicia Coleman of Florida State University said in a prepared statement.
"But if you remove the fish caught and used for fish sticks and fish meal (pollock and menhaden) -- two strictly commercially caught species that account for over half of all U.S. landings -- the recreational take rises to 10 percent nationally. And if you focus in on the populations identified by the federal government as species of concern, it rises to 23 percent," Coleman said.
For the most threatened species, recreational fishing takes a bigger bite from coastal waters of the South and Pacific than it does in the Northeast, the study found.
Amateur fishermen took in 64 percent of landings in Gulf of Mexico waters, 38 percent of landings off North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida's east cost, and 59 percent of "species of concern" caught off the Pacific coast, the study found.
In contrast, recreational fishing made up only 12 percent of landings for at-risk species in the waters of the Northeast.
This is the first comprehensive study of recreational saltwater fishing in the United States, using federal and state data on commercial and recreational landings over the past 22 years.
The American Heart Association has information about fish and fish oils.