- State lawmakers, hunting advocates, and fishing advocates held a press conference endorsing a proposed Constitutional amendment that would establish fishing and hunting as public rights.
- The proposed amendment requires three-fifths of the membership of each house of the Legislature to appear on the next general election ballot and approval by at least 60 percent of the electors voting on the measure for passage.
- The economic impact of saltwater and freshwater recreational fishing in Florida amounts to $13.8 billion, and recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing generate an economic impact of $10.1 billion annually.
A coalition of state lawmakers, hunting advocates, and fishing advocates convened at the steps of the Old Capitol to deliver a press conference on Tuesday endorsing a proposed Constitutional amendment that would establish fishing and hunting as public rights. Emphasizing the significant economic impact of these activities on tourism, the group appealed for heightened public backing.
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 subsequently placed on the ballot, the amendment would require approval by at least 60 percent of the electors voting 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.
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, while combined saltwater and freshwater recreational fishing have an economic impact of $13.8 billion.
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, according to 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 in the next week, 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 the event, hunting-related purchases totaled $1.3 billion in Florida last year, supporting 14,300 jobs.