Surrounded by more than 200 fourth- to seventh-grade students casting fishing lines and donning life jackets, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined partners of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to launch National Fishing and Boating Week (June 1-9).
Held just blocks from Capitol Hill on the banks of the Anacostia River, the event featured hands-on fishing and boating opportunities for kids and teachers, as well as lessons about boating safety and aquatic resource conservation.
"What you are doing today is really important -- not only is a day on the water fun, but it also gives us a better appreciation for fish and wildlife and the importance of conservation," Jewell told the students from local schools in the Washington, D.C., area. "Boating and fishing play important roles in our nation's outdoor heritage and our economic well-being, so it's key that we continue to support policies and investments that connect the next generation to the great outdoors."
In 2011, more than 40 million individuals participated in fishing activities that generated $41.8 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation's economy and supported more than 828,00 jobs, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At the same time in 2011, recreational boating participation increased to 83 million, contributing $72 billion in annual economic impact and employing more than 348,000 Americans, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
During National Fishing and Boating Week, many areas -- including the District of Columbia -- provide free fishing (no license required) as a way to encourage people to go fishing. Local activities that promote fishing, boating and conservation can be found here.
Jewell was joined by Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rowan Gould, who praised the many partnerships that made the day possible and provided boats, fishing rods, busses, volunteers and many other necessary items for the students.
"The organizations partnering with us today are heavily invested in creating and educating new boaters, anglers and stewards of our waters and lands, and I thank them -- and our partners across the country -- for helping make this week-long event a launch pad for the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists," said Gould.
Key sponsorship was provided by Bass Pro Shops, with additional support provided by the American Sportfishing Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. The event was hosted by the Earth Conservation Corps at its Pump House facility.
"Helping kids have fun learning to fish, boat and just be outdoors provides a path not just to natural resource stewardship but to real career opportunities in outdoor recreation and conservation," said Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, speaking on behalf of industry partners. "This next generation brings a new and exciting set of needs, ideas and potential to the world of conservation and outdoor recreation. Events like this help us better understand and develop these budding anglers and boaters, especially in urban environments."
Other partners providing assistance and support included the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, Anacostia Watershed Society, BoatUS Foundation, National Park Trust, Potomac Riverboat Company, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary -- as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has organized the event for 30 years.
Jewell noted the event is one example of President Obama's "America's Great Outdoors" initiative to help Americans enjoy and conserve nature, as well as the First Lady's "Let's Move!" initiative to promote healthy outdoor exercise for kids.
The event location on the Anacostia River also underscores the work of the "Urban Waters Federal Partnership" to restore and protect rivers so they can be enjoyed by everyone. Many federal and other agencies are working through this partnership to pool resources and maximize funding with the goal of making all urban rivers swimmable and fishable. The U.S. Geological Survey last month released an analysis of the Watts Branch of the Anacostia River that documents how restoration work on this urban tributary has had a substantial impact on the local economy, directly or indirectly accounting for 45 jobs, $2.6 million in local labor income and $3.4 million in value added to the local D.C. metropolitan area in 2011.