Press Releases

New Fishing License Study Shows R3 Drives Increases
The study analyzed fishing license data over a 25-year period in 12 states

ALEXANDRIA, VA (July 8, 2019) – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) today released an analysis of state and national trends in fishing license sales confirming the effectiveness of R3 efforts on growth. The research, done in partnership with the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and carried out by Southwick Associates, looks at license data and participation rates over a 25-year period.


Twelve states were selected to represent different rates of growth or decline in the number of licensed anglers. The study used multivariate approaches for analyzing data to identify which factors had the greatest effects on fishing participation rates. Here are the highlights.

  • R3’s success was large enough to drive measurable increases in four of six growth states and only one of six declining states.
  • In most states where participation increased, the state agencies have created wide-reaching R3 programs.
    • Many of these states also included coordinated marketing and communications strategies.
  • Multi-year licenses and 365-day licenses (valid for one year from the date of purchase) had a positive effect in every state where they were implemented.
  • Responsive programming that addresses the needs of a state, such as meeting an urbanizing population with urban fishing initiatives, will have the greatest impact.

“It’s clear that ramping up R3 efforts, among other things, has a direct, positive impact on fishing license sales,” said RBFF President & CEO Frank Peterson. “This research provides support for the critical R3 work we are encouraging our state and federal agency and industry partners to undertake.”


These findings show that there are specific actions that state agencies can make to positively affect license sales and participation rates, even in states with declining participation.


By determining which factors drive increases and decreases across states and then identifying those that can be influenced by state recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) efforts, we can improve R3 approaches and strategies resulting in greater license sales and participation.


The full report is available online.


This project was organized and funded by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) through a USFWS financial assistance award (#F18AC00145), with additional funding support from the American Sportfishing Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.



About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)

RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation's aquatic natural resources. RBFF's recently announced 60-in-60 effort strives to attract 60 million anglers to the sport by the end of 2021. To help recruit, retain and reactivate participants, RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns creating awareness about boating, fishing and conservation, and educating people about the benefits of participation. These campaigns help boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign websites, and, feature how-to videos, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

For further information: David Rodgers,, 703-253-7268