Recreational fishing is widely accepted as a wholesome and non-controversial lifetime outdoor activity with numerous positive benefits. By sanctioning angling as a recognized sport, athletic associations and schools provide opportunities for students and families who might not otherwise participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities.
Due to its wholesome and non-controversial nature, recreational fishing is widely recognized as an affordable and lifetime outdoor activity with numerous benefits including: physical activity, an increased awareness of our natural resources, as well as an improved understanding and appreciation for the outdoors. Because of the many benefits associated with the activity and increased interest of younger generations, some states have enacted legislation implementing fishing education into school curriculums.
Four states (IL,16 KY,17 MO,18 NH, 19), through their respective high school athletic associations, now recognize competitive bass fishing as a sanctioned high school activity. By doing so, athletic associations and schools are hoping to draw in students and families who would have otherwise never participate in angling or lost interest over time. Illinois has been extremely successful at implementing school fishing programs with a 68% increase in participation from 2009 to 201820, equating to 91 additional schools enrolled in the program. Students wishing to participate in school fishing programs within these states are required to have a valid state fishing license, membership with the Student Angler Federation (SAF) for liability insurance purposes, and a coach on board the boat at all times.
Points of Interest
- Since its inception in 2009, work by the National Fishing in Schools Program (NFSP, modeled after the highly successful National Archery in the Schools Program)21 has led to 283 schools from 41 states and D.C. implementing the “Fishing in Schools” program. With 535 educators certified to teach NFSP curriculum, nearly 100,000 students have been introduced to fishing through the NFSP program.22
- The Future Fishing Foundation’s “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” curriculum, now in its 28th year, has been extremely successful in its implementation throughout numerous states and schools.23
- Other programs such as the Student Angler Federation (SAF)24 and C.A.S.T. (Catch a Special Thrill) For Kids25 have worked to promote education and introduce kids to fishing.
- In Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and New Hampshire, bass fishing is classified as a sanctioned high school sports “activity.” This designation provides a structure for bass fishing teams that encourages participation from both parents and volunteer coaches.
- In 2013, Louisiana passed legislation (SCR 22) urging the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to establish and sanction the sport of competitive bass fishing.
In addition to angling being a wholesome, lifelong outdoor activity, the excise taxes gained from the purchase of products associated with fishing are an integral part of the American System of Conservation Funding. To promote angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3), which ensures both the future of our angling heritage, as well as critical fisheries conservation, legislators should explore and support legislative options that make angling programs more readily available in our children’s schools.
For more information regarding this issue, please contact Ellary TuckerWilliams (202)573-6079; firstname.lastname@example.org
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