A recently released report commissioned by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), titled “Florida Boating Access Facilities Inventory and Economic Study,” revealed the importance of boating to Florida’s economy. However, as good as boating is for the economy, the report indicated there is a need to address critical boating infrastructure now to continue to adequately accommodate boating activities in the future.
The report showed that spending related to recreational boating trips supports 97,000 jobs in Florida, with recreational boater expenditures totaling $8.5 billion. This represents about 50 percent of the total jobs and spending associated with Florida’s diverse marine industry.
“That’s big money and not something the state should be willing to give up,” said Pat Harrell of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “Because of an aging population, it is predicted that Florida’s boating could decrease by nearly 2 percent. If we are able to meet the demands of changing demographics, it is possible for the state to see less or no decline in boating demand.”
The 572-page report includes an inventory and assessment of recreational boating-access facilities and documents the economic significance of recreational boating. It will be used for public and private planning and decision-making in determining where boat ramps, marinas, boat storage and other boating infrastructure should be located. The project also will result in a database that contains records for more than 3,100 boat ramps throughout the state, of which 51 percent are open to the public. The FWC will develop an interactive Web site that will allow boaters, public officials and researchers to get current regional information on boating access from real-time resources.
By seeing these trends for demand now, the FWC can help ensure Florida meets the boating demand of the future. The FWC provides grants to local governments for boat ramps and other boat-access infrastructure. The agency’s goal is to encourage, promote and support projects that provide safe, high-quality and environmentally sound public recreational boat access to Florida waterways.
To view the report, visit MyFWC.com/About and click on “Economic Benefits.”