- The state House of Representatives has given unanimous approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine fishing and hunting as a fundamental public right.
- The amendment is required to be passed by three-fifths of voting Senators to appear on the ballot in the next general election.
- If placed on the ballot, it will require approval from 60 percent of voters to pass.
Following unanimous approval in the Florida House of Representatives, a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine fishing and hunting as a fundamental public right is poised for consideration in the Senate, the final point of order before it appears on ballots in 2024.
The proposed amendment “recognizes the importance of hunting and fishing to Florida’s cultural heritage and its economy,” according to the language of the written resolution, and must be passed by three-fifths of the membership of each house of the Legislature to appear on the next general election ballot.
If placed on the ballot, the amendment would require approval by at least 60 percent of voters on the measure for passage. The proposed amendment is expected to be on the ballot for the November 5, 2024 general election, and if adopted, would take effect on January 7, 2025.
“With over 1,000 people per day moving to Florida, it is critical that we preserve this Florida heritage forever,” said Rep. Lauren Melo, a backer of the proposal.
Saltwater fishing has a significant economic impact on Florida, earning the state the title of “Fishing Capital of the World.” In the fiscal year 2019-20, the state sold 1.5 million recreational saltwater licenses, generating $37.8 million in total sales. The economic impact of saltwater recreational fishing alone is $9.2 billion, though when combined, saltwater and freshwater recreational fishing have an economic impact of $13.8 billion, according to state data.
Saltwater recreational fishing supports 88,501 jobs in Florida, while both saltwater and freshwater fishing support 120,000 jobs in total. In 2019 and 2020, Florida’s commercial fisheries generated $3.2 billion in income and supported 76,700 jobs, per the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“We’ve already conducted polling that shows us that there is strong support for this amongst not only Republicans and Democrats, but Independents as well,” said Luke Hilgemann, International Order of Theodore Rosevelt Executive Director. “We’re confident that once the legislature takes action we will be able to enshrine the right to fish and hunt in Florida’s Constitution forever.”
Altogether, outdoor recreation remains crucial to Florida’s economy, with recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing generating an economic impact of $10.1 billion annually.
According to the International Order of T. Rosevelt, who spoke at a press conference in support of the measure last week, hunting-related purchases totaled $1.3 billion in Florida last year, supporting 14,300 jobs.