Hunting, fishing pack an economic wallop for Maryland -- Gazette.Net


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Hunting and fishing mean more than fresh, tasty meals and prized wall trophies in Maryland. They also mean thousands of jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion, according to a new report.

The study, from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation of Washington, D.C., shows that the 445,000 people who hunt or fish in Maryland supported 10,707 jobs and generated a $1.25 billion economic impact in the state in 2011.

Nationwide, fishing and hunting enthusiasts spent $90 billion in 2011 — more than the combined global sales of Apple’s iPhone and iPad that year, according to the foundation. Maryland ranked No. 35 in spending, trailing neighbors Virginia and Pennsylvania, which had $2.4 billion and $1.5 billion in sales, respectively.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” said Keith Fraser, owner of Alltackle.com in Annapolis and Ocean City. “Even from out of state, there’s a lot of money spent on the side that people don’t consider. People coming here to fish spend a lot of money on fuel for their boats, as well as hotels, restaurants and marina docking.”

Maryland benefits from the Chesapeake Bay, which provides numerous options for fishing and hunting, Fraser said.

Alltackle.com, in business for 13 years, handles about 50,000 transactions annually, including through its online presence, he said.

Lori Patten, owner of Tuckahoe Sportsman in Denton, which sells hunting and fishing supplies, pointed out that fishing also provides low-cost entertainment for Marylanders.

The array of peninsulas around the Pasadena area make it a prime fishing spot, said Joe McHenry, co-owner of Cobe Marine. Although Cobe Marine’s former owners specialized in hunting supplies, McHenry has focused more on fishing and boating since he and his partner took over the business in 2007.

“Just about anyone in this area has a boat and fishes,” he said, adding that fishing supports 30 percent of his business. Cobe Marine makes about $1.3 million in annual sales, McHenry said.

The state boasts the fourth-largest tidal coastline in the U.S., said Fearl Bradley, owner of Fearl’s Bait & Tackle in Baltimore.

“There is a fishing niche that’s been here for a long time,” he said. “We’re proud of that.”

Maryland is also one of the prime waterfowl hunting spots in the country, said Steve Schneider, owner of Atlantic Guns in Silver Spring and Rockville. He said Maryland’s deer population also is attractive to hunters, with the number of deer hunters increasing “dramatically” over the years.

But Schneider also expressed concern that the state’s population growth was making it increasingly difficult to find appropriate hunting grounds.

Atlantic Guns, in business since 1951, has 25 employees, he said.

Patten also denounced the O’Malley administration’s push for more gun regulations, which she said will make it harder for hunters to enjoy their sport.

“The Eastern Shore has a lot more area to hunt than other parts of Maryland. It attracts people from everywhere,” she said. “We’re trying to get people outdoors so they’re not sitting around all the time.”

Tuckahoe Sportsman receives about 1,500 customers annually.

“Many people may not fully comprehend how important hunting and fishing are to the fabric of this country,” Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, said in a statement. “Yet nationally there are more people who hunt or fish than go bowling, and their spending would land them at No. 24 on the Fortune 500 list.”

lrobbins@gazette.net