Right to hunt, fish amendment appears poised to pass

by | May 13, 2024

A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll indicates that 74 percent of Floridians support a constitutional amendment to enshrine fishing and hunting as a fundamental public right, surpassing the 60 percent threshold needed for its passage in November.

A majority of Floridians are in support of a constitutional amendment that would enshrine fishing and hunting as a fundamental public right, according to a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll, indicating that the measure is beyond the 60 percent threshold needed to pass in November.

The poll, released last Friday, indicates that 74 percent of respondents support the measure, while 14 percent oppose it. Eleven percent are undecided. The amendment “recognizes the importance of hunting and fishing to Florida’s cultural heritage and its economy,” as stated in the draft resolution. If ratified, it will take effect on January 7, 2025.

Should the measure be adopted, Florida would become the 24th state to establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish. The resolution would add a 28th section to the Declaration of Rights in the Florida Constitution, stating that hunting and fishing are the preferred methods for “responsibly managing and controlling fish and wildlife” and “shall be preserved forever as a public right.”

The amendment would not restrict the regulatory authority of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission over hunting and fishing activities.

The first constitutional amendment for hunting and fishing rights was adopted by Vermont in 1777. Since 1996, when Alabama passed a similar amendment, 22 other states have done the same. Utah approved the most recent amendment in 2020, with 75 percent of voters in favor. However, Arizona voters rejected a similar amendment in 2010.

Last month, a campaign in support of a constitutional amendment was launched as advocates rally to reach the required approval by at least 60 percent of the electors voting on the measure in November. The initiative, YES ON 2, announced on social media that it had officially commenced operations.

“The campaign to preserve fishing and hunting rights in Florida has officially launched!” The campaign posted on X, adding on its website that “Amendment 2 preserves Florida’s rich traditions, conservation practices, outdoor lifestyle and economic opportunities.”

The campaign has received the backing of elected officials, as Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson donated $100,000 this month in support of the initiative.

“Fishing and hunting are inextricably linked to our economy, our lifestyle and the conservation of our land. I’m proud to support Yes On 2!” Simpson said on X following disclosure of his donation.

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.

Moreover, 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.

According to the International Order of T. Rosevelt, who spoke at a press conference last April in support of the measure, hunting-related purchases totaled $1.3 billion in Florida in 2022, supporting 14,300 jobs.

“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 at the press event. “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.”

According to the International Order of T. Rosevelt, hunting-related purchases totaled $1.3 billion in Florida last year, supporting 14,300 jobs.

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.


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