Miami—The legendary wisdom of anglers is changing with the times, according to groundbreaking new research published Thursday in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. The first study to use personal seafood budgets to reveal environmental orientation shows that South Florida’s recreational fishers have a newfound recognition of climate change and a strong will to open their wallets for high quality seafood.
Old timers remain stingier than newer generations, reveals researcher James W. Harper, who surveyed a selection of Florida’s more than one million registered marine fishers for the the scientific article The New Man and the Sea. But one of the study’s biggest surprises is that poorer people are not stingy when it comes to paying more for sustainable seafood. The online survey found middle to lower class households were just as willing as upper classes to pay a few dollars extra to purchase fish with a sustainability label on it. These residents living near the Florida Reef especially want local seafood, because 80 percent were in favor of higher costs to guarantee seafood caught nearby.
Registered anglers are very wealthy, as they reported income twice as high as the average Floridian. The study’s survey was limited to five counties in southeastern Florida, including the Florida Keys of Monroe County, and the majority of participants owned a boat, went fishing and scuba diving, and expressed high concern about climate change damaging Florida’s coral reefs, a new finding for this community.
The study finds that greater concern about climate change inspires greater spending on sustainable seafood. But Florida’s large community born abroad is not inspired to spend more for seafood from Florida.
More than 90 percent of Florida’s seafood is imported, and imports are the norm across the Caribbean. Commercial fishing in Florida has been shrinking while the recreational boating and fishing industries have grown steadily for decades. New research is finding that recreational fishing has an equal or greater impact on coastal ecosystems as commercial fishing, even though recreational fishing has no federal regulation. Florida’s recreational fishing sector is more than twice as large as the next closest state. But little scientific research has illuminated how this community thinks and acts for the environment it uses.
The open access scientific article is available for free online at: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/3/2/299/html
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James (Jim) W. Harper