Exciting Fishing Industry Statistics for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Fishing Statistics

We all go out and fish, but we rarely think about numbers. That’s ok, as fishing is great to clear our minds a bit.

But what about numbers that are related to fishing, and some of those are even related to your fishing experience. Have you ever noticed how some places that were full of fish today have almost none?

All of this is related to fishing statistics. From recreational fishing statistics, to reels popularity and sold items, even to commercial fishing statistics. If you are interested in this, I advise you to keep reading.

Keeping track of this is important to see how fishing affects the environment. And to know that your reel will have spare parts available. It may sound boring, but I find it extremely interesting.

Instead of searching for info online, I did that for you, so that you can find whatever you are searching for here, even if you are not an angler. I also plan to update this frequently, so that you can always find relevant info.



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What Exactly are Fishing Statistics?

So, what exactly are fishing statistics? Statistics, including fishing ones, show us all kinds of trends in form of numbers. Sometimes, these numbers can be related to one event and point in time (like the biggest fish caught in some lake) to trends dependent on time.

One of this time related trends is fish numbers in a specific area through years that show you is fish population declining or increasing. Various factors increase these numbers, from urban development, industrialization and pollution to commercial fishing in the area. Other statistics data can show you number of caught fish.

Some of these trends you can experience yourself. As I frequently fish in the Adriatic Sea, I can see the difference today in number of fish, when I compare it with my own experiences let’s say 20 years ago.

So, enough with theory, and let`s get to the numbers.

Fishing statistics - Infografic

All About the Commercial Fishing Statistics

I'll start with commercial fishing statistics. Although you may be a recreational angler, this affects you directly. If a local area has been overfished by commercial vessels, your weekend angling trip may result in going home empty handed.

Fishing Industry Statistics

Fishing industry statistic could literally be a 300-page book. However, here I will state some general numbers so that you can see the trends. Keep in mind that statistic data is collected for a current year, and then processed, reviewed, and published. On a large scale, it can take up to a few years to get a final number (bureaucracy problems). So, in 2022, we can see numbers for year or two in the past and older.


Fishing is a huge business in Europe. In 2019, there were more than 160 000 people employed in the industry.

Efficiency of the fleet is also becoming better. In 10-year period, from 2009 to 2019, fleet got smaller, but the catch remained the same. It means less pollution done by vessels for the same result.

Aquaculture and catches are relatively steady in the same 10-year period, with a few ups and downs, however, both are reduced when compared to early 2000s.

In 2019, 4.5 million toons of sea creatures were caught.

Source: ec.europa.eu

  • US:

In the US, more than a million people works in a fishing industry. That number changes from year to year, but in the past 10-year period, it never went bellow 1.029.542.

In year 2019, a bit less than 5.4 million tonnes of sea creatures were caught. As you can see, more people work in the industry in USA, but for the same result as in Europe.

Source: statista.com

Here are a few more numbers:


There are 17 000 people employed, and 0.3 million tonnes caught.

Source: awe.gov.au

  • UK:

In the UK, 622 thousand of sea creatures were caught, and the industry provides 12 000 jobs on the fishing vessels, but that number excludes land employees.

Source: publishing.service.gov.uk

Fishing statistics - Commercial

Fisheries Statistics and Global Fisheries Statistics

Fisheries statistic, mostly global fisheries statistics, is a broad term that describes various statistic data. Every country collects and processes its own data, and it can be a bit different than the one stated by international organisations, however, these organisations make excellent comparisons between nations. United nations are a great source if you are interested in this. 

Here are some numbers:

Global production of fish and other marine organisms in year 2019 was 177.8 milion tonnes. Value of total product is around 406 billion dollars.

China is number one country, that is responsible for 15.1% of total production. Indonesia, India, Russia and Peru are in the first 5.

They are followed by the USA and Vietnam. Of course, these numbers represent fish caught and fish product manufactured.

When it comes to fish species, Anchoveta is the most commonly caught fish. Alaskan pollock is the second, and among top 5 we have skipjack and yellowfin tuna, and Atlantic herring.

I could list a million of other numbers here, but these should show you how big the industry is. I will mention more about it a bit later.

Fishery Data

Fishery data is in a way similar to fisheries statistics, and the numbers are generated in the same way. So why am I mentioning it? It is because a lot of this data is oriented towards specific fisheries or fish species.

Here are some examples:


I will focus on production here, instead of catch, because I already mentioned that in previous chapters. I will mention fleet too.

Here is top 5 a list of the most successful countries in terms of production from aquaculture, excluding hatcheries and nurseries, in 2020:

1. Norway – 1 490 412.045 tonnes of live weight
2. Spain – 272 097.69 tonnes of live weight
3. France – 191 051.6292 tonnes of live weight
4. Greece – 130 792.562 tonnes of live weight
5. Italy – 122 742. 159 tonnes of live weight

Although Norway is on number one place, Spain actually has a bigger fleet. The difference is in vessel capacity and equipment; thus, you get such large discrepancies in numbers.

Source: ec.europa.eu

World scale of catchers was mentioned in the previous chapter, so here I will mention the USA states in 2019

1. Alaska - 5632 million pounds
2. Louisiana - 896 million pounds
3. Washington - 544 million pounds
4. Virginia - 390 million pounds
5. Mississippi - 360 million pounds

The same data can be found for certain areas, catch in these areas, and similar.

Source: statista.com

All About the Recreational Fishing Statistics

Some of you may not be interested in commercial fishing, so here are some important recreational fishing statistics.

Fishing Equipment Market and Fishing Tackle Industry Statistics

One of the most important aspects of recreational fishing is equipment, so here are some interesting stats in terms of Fishing equipment market and Fishing tackle industry statistics.

As you may assume, this industry is growing. Every fourth person in the USA has owned a fishing license at least once in their life, and that is only one country in the world.

Globally, it is more than 14-billion-dollar industry with growth tendency of 4% per year. Some estimates say that it will reach 17 billion by 2027. Of course, these are just estimates, and various sources give slightly different numbers, but all show significant growth.

One aspect that increases significantly over the year is online sales. More and more percentage of overall gear sold is soled over the internet. Online segment is expected to grow 5.5% in the next five years.

As you may assume, industry is the largest in areas where recreational fishing has a lot of popularity, and that is the USA. But, Europe is catching up, especially in the last few years.

Here are some interesting statistical facts:

• During Covid pandemic, number of fishing licences sold in Denmark increased by 24%.
• In 2020 fishing reels were number 1 fishing items sold, with 28.2% of all sales.
• Freshwater market is the largest and holds 64.9% of all sales.
• About 13% of all sales is done online.
• North America is the largest market with 60.2% of all sales.

Source: marketdataforecast.com

Fishing statistics - Recreational

Recreational Fishing Industry Statistics

Here are some numbers that represent recreational fishing industry statistics in terms of participants. This is interesting if we compare it with revenue numbers from the previous chapter.

  • USA:

Interesting fact is that 55 million people in the USA, which is 18% of population, went fishing in 2022. Around 42.5 of them went freshwater fishing. That is logical, as freshwater fishing locations are widely spread across the country. About 14.5 million of people went saltwater fishing.

Fly fishing had about 5.5 million participants, and that is quite high, considering how demanding this technique is.

Among all these anglers, around 8 million were children between 6 and 12 years. All of this numbers are from year 2021 and represent growth when compared with previous years. So, as the number of anglers grows, so does the industry revenue.

Source: asafishing.org


In Europe, numbers are a bit lower. When it comes to sea fishing, 8.7 million people were a part of recreational fishing. Unfortunately, Europe collects a lot less data than USA, or even Australia. Giving precise info in terms of freshwater anglers, average year, and similar is not possible.

Source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com and eaa-europe.org


Australia collects a lot of data by doing surveys among people and then process this data to get a wide picture. Unfortunately, most data is related to Australian states, not for the whole continent. Those are not taken yearly, and new ones are in a process of making.

Here are some examples:

SA- 2021/2022 Survey is ongoing, so I will give you a 2013/2014 example. Around 277 000 people fished in South Australia. About 84% of them use classic rod and line technique.

QUEENSLAND – around 943 000 people fished in 2019. Altogether, 19% of population older than 5 enjoys fishing activities. About 13 500 tonnes of fish is recreationally caught and killed, while 9500 tonnes are released.

Source: pir.sa.gov.au and stateoftheenvironment.des.qld.gov.au

Fish Stocking Report

Fish stocking is important for recreational anglers who frequently fish in waters that are stocked. Thousands of rivers, lakes, and ponds around the world are stocked with one or more fish species. Fish stocking report gives you info about stocked locations.

USA is a great example of this. Fishing authorities in various states publish info about locations being stocked, fish species that is stocked, size of it, numbers, and the date it was done. As and angler you can follow the info and go fishing in suitable times. I will not list hundreds of lakes and I will give you one example to see what I’m talking about.

State of Maine offers a lot of data about this.

Cobbosseecontee stream is a great fishing location that is being stocked regularly.

Date Species Quantity Size (inches)
April 22nd 2022 Brook Trout 1000 10
April 29th 2021 Brook Trout 1000 10
May 7th 2019 Brook Trout 1000 10
May 9th 2018 Brook Trout 1000 10
May 10th 2017 Brook Trout 1000 10
April 20th 2016 Brook Trout 1000 10

This table may seem boring but what it tells you besides that stocking time is in late April/early May?

This means that fish numbers are consistent, and population remains fairly constant. Same number of fish is stocked yearly, and that is enough to keep a desired population despite recreational fishing activities in the area.

All About the Other Fishing Statistics

There are a lot of different statistics and many of them can be added to various categories. I decided to exclude these two as the economic ones.

Commercial Fishing Economic Impact is LARGE

You can assume that commercial fishing economic impact is large, and many economies around the world rely on it. I previously stated USA and European numbers when it comes to employment, so here are some worldwide statistics:

• Oceans contribute 1.5 trillion dollars per year to global economy. This includes fishermen, hatcheries, food processing and selling.
• Worldwide 60 million people work in fishing industry – 40 million in fishing and 20 in ocean farming.
• Majority of 60 million fishermen are from less developed areas of the world and are fishing in small scale but because they live from it, it is considered commercial fishing.
• Global fisheries and aquaculture resulted in 179 million tonnes of catch.
• Out of 400 billion of value about 60% comes from developing countries.
• 3.3 billion people consume 20% of their protein from fish.

From this you can see exactly how big is the fishing industry. But let’s talk numbers in value.

Source: worldbank.org

How Big is the Fishing Industry?

Exactly how big the industry is shown by revenue in a specific country, especially when compared with other local industries.

  • USA:

Annual value of fishing sector in the USA was 10.05 billion dollars in in 2020. In terms of all market and industries, it is among the lowest contributors to GDP.

Source: statista.com


In Europe, value of fishing industry in 2020 was 33 billion dollars. In EU member states, fishing contributes to GDP less than 1%. But although it seems like a small industry, overfishing is a huge problem.

Source: eumofa.eu


In Australia, value of fishing industry in 2019 was 1.6 billion dollars.

But all of these are developed areas. Let`s see some less developed countries.

Source: awe.gov.au


In 2015, value of fishing industry was 18.10 billion dollars. When it comes to contribution to GDP, it is around 2.8 percent.

Source: statista.com

  • PERU:

In Peru, fishing industry was worth around 3.5 billion dollars in 2019. In terms of GDP that is 1.4% when we include processed value.

As you can see, the percentage is a bit higher in countries that are not considered to be the most advanced in the world.

Source: springer.com and statista.com

Fishing statistics - Equipment


Fishing stats can show us all kinds of info, but if you know anything about math, you know that these numbers can also be tailored to suit your desired results. Data can be collected and rocessed in various ways, and you can’t really consider it an exact science.

However, these numbers can show you how various aspects of commercial and recreational fishing change over time and give you some projections of the future.

If you are an angler, try tracking some info on your local waters and see how it changes! It can be related to baits, time of day for fishing, or anything that could help you improve your fishing experience! That too, is a form of statistic research

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