Marine recreational anglers caught more than 468 million fish in 2007, down slightly from last year’s historic high of 475 million fish, but still the second highest recreational catch total in the last ten years.
The overall number of fish caught and kept also declined slightly, from 214 million to196 million fish, according to NOAA’s Fisheries Service.
The 2007 data demonstrates a widespread turn toward “catch and release” among recreational anglers. While anglers are catching about 27 percent more fish than a decade ago, they are also releasing more fish than they keep. Of the 468 million fish caught by anglers in 2007, 272 million or 58 percent were released alive. The percentage of fish released into the environment has increased steadily from about 51 percent in 1993.
Spotted seatrout was the most popular catch among marine recreational anglers. The species is caught in the Gulf of Mexico and the south Atlantic regions, which have the highest combined concentration of saltwater anglers in the nation. The top catches in other regions were lane snapper (Caribbean), striped bass (North Atlantic), Atlantic croaker (Mid-Atlantic), chub mackerel (Pacific), black rockfish (Pacific Northwest), and bigeye scad (Western Pacific).