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Survey Documents Importance of Oceans and Shorelines

A recent press release from NOAA Fisheries social scientists highlighted a report, the National Ocean Recreation Expenditure Survey, (NORES), the first national survey undertaken by them to estimate participation levels and the number of day’s people spent enjoying a broad range of ocean and coastal activities.

In 2012, the baseline year chosen by researchers for the survey, nearly 49 million adults over 18 years of age nationwide participated in ocean and coastal recreation, spending more than 1.2 billion days along the coasts and spending over $141 billion in ocean recreation-related goods and services. These expenditures supported more than 3.1 million full and part-time jobs, $409 billion in income to businesses, and $135 billion to household incomes and $225 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The survey was conducted in 2012 and 2013. Every two months for a year, survey respondents were asked details about their ocean-related activities in the previous two months to account for seasonal activities. Included in the online survey were households in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The survey focused on eight categories: recreational fishing; recreational shellfishing; hunting waterfowl or other animals; viewing or photographing the ocean; beachcombing, tidepooling or collecting items; water contact sports; boating and associated activities; and outdoor activities not involving water contact.

For the purposes of sampling the U.S., six regions were defined: Pacific, New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Inland. Activities that occurred on the Great Lakes and other inland lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams were excluded. The shoreline of the United States spans roughly 88,633 miles.

With 48 percent of the U.S. ocean shoreline, the Pacific region has the largest number of participants, days involved, and ocean recreation-related spending. Nearly 14 million participants spent 382 million days engaged in an ocean activity and spent over $39 billion on durable and trip-related goods and services. The Mid-Atlantic region, with 12 percent of the nation” coastline was second in the number of ocean recreation participants, with over 10 million people enjoying the region’s coastline. The New England region had the smallest share with 5.6 million ocean recreation participants spending 135 million days and $11 billion along New England’s coast, which is about 7 percent of the U.S. ocean shoreline.

“This study is an important contribution to our understanding of how a wide range of ocean and coastal activities contributes to our national and regional economies,” said Rosemary Kosaka who along with Scott Steinback, co-authored this report.

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