Foundation that promotes fishing and boating celebrates 20 years of bringing participants to the water
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) celebrates 20 years of recruiting, retaining and reactivating (R3) anglers and boaters through its marketing campaigns, partnerships, grants and more.
On October 7, 1998, RBFF was founded and tasked with reversing the trend of waning angler and boater participation – a critical mission to ensure conservation funds for generations to come. Since its inception, RBFF has worked to educate consumers, bring them to the water to try fishing and boating, keep them active and work with state fish & wildlife agencies and the industry to bring lapsed participants back.
Twenty milestones for twenty years:
- 2001 – Water Works Wonders launched as first-ever national campaign to promote fishing, boating and aquatic conservation.
- 2001 – RBFF designates the first-ever National Fishing and Boating Week, held during the first full week of June every year since.
- 2003 – Passport to Fishing & Boating Program revealed, providing stakeholders with fishing and boating education materials for individuals with little or no previous experience.
- 2005 – RBFF changes the brand campaign to Take Me Fishing™, a clearer call-to-action for the target audience, seeing increases in campaign awareness immediately.
- 2007 – RBFF Direct Mail Marketing Toolkit introduced, with email now included.
- 2012 – “This is a Test” PSA campaign launched, securing 35,000 airings and nearly $7 million in value add in its first year.
- 2013 – Take Me Fishing teams with Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Media to connect kids and families with boating and fishing, with Take Me Fishing branded guided fishing and boating experiences coming a year later.
- 2014 – First-ever list of top fishing and boating spots across the United States revealed, a program that has continued to evolve and bring strong media results through 2018.
- 2014 – Hispanic outreach campaign, Vamos A Pescar™, launches as pilot program in Florida and Texas. Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris and Disney donate to the campaign in its first year.
- 2016 – The modern TakeMeFishing.org is launched, achieving more than 12 million site visits and reeling in awards.
- 2016 – George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar™ Education Fund launched. Kick-off event generates nearly 500 million media impressions.
- 2016 – The 60 in 60 goal is officially announced.
- 2017 – U.S. Department of the Interior & U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies sign unprecedented MOU with RBFF and the fishing and boating industry, with the National Park Service joining in 2018.
- 2017 – Pilot Take Me Fishing First Catch Centers begin cultivating future anglers and boaters with youth and family development programs.
- 2017 – RBFF joins forces with Fishbrain to bring a new, more powerful Places to Fish & Boat Map experience to consumers.
- 2017 – All 50 states represented at RBFF State Marketing Workshop for the first time.
- 2018 – RBFF launches its Women Making Waves initiative, empowering women and making them feel welcomed on the water.
- 2018 – RBFF partners with the National Conservation Training Center, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports and the Wildlife Management Institute on first-ever national R3 training.
- 2018 – Fishing participation is now at 49.1 million – up nearly 20% over the last 10 years to the highest level since 1991.
- 2018 – Boating participation reaches 142 million or 36% of the U.S. population, with fishing remaining the number one activity done from a boat.
“In the years leading up to RBFF’s founding, fishing participation was down and critical conservation programs were suffering as a result,” said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. “I feel we at RBFF have corrected-course. Fishing participation has increased nearly 20% over the last 10 years, no doubt due in large part to our marketing efforts, partnerships and programs, and we are making strong progress toward our 60 in 60 goal.”
Critical to RBFF’s success has been the inclusion of emerging audiences in the foundation’s marketing, communications and programs. As the United States continues to grow more diverse each year, effectively engaging these audiences will prove more and more critical to our industry’s success. Encouragingly, RBFF’s work in this area is resonating. Female anglers accounted for 45% of new participants and Hispanic participation is at its highest level (4.2 million) since data on this segment was first collected.
Longtime fishing industry leader and former American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President and CEO, Mike Nussman remarked:
- Back in 1996, when the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation results became available, it was clear that we as a fishing community had a problem. Fishing participation, which had typically increased with each previous survey, declined for the first time. ASA’s answer was to work with the State Fish and Wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to convince Congress to dedicate a small portion of the excise tax funding to the promotion of fishing and boating activities. We were successful and RBFF was created.
I’m so pleased that RBFF has brought boating and fishing together and united our efforts to promote our sport. Working with the state agencies and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, I look forward to incredible work in the future!
“The last twenty years have been both challenging and fulfilling, and we’re not taking any breaks. We are planning to make the next twenty even more impactful,” added Peterson.
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 effortstrives 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, TakeMeFishing.org and TakeMeFishing.org/es, 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.