News Column

Fishing Foundation Hopes to Hook Hispanics

August 8, 2013

Staff Reports -- HispanicBusiness.com

bass boat
There's plenty of room on the water for Hispanic anglers, a nonprofit reminds.

A national boating and fishing organization is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign next year aimed at getting more Hispanics involved in fishing.

The five-year campaign by the nonprofit Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) comes at a time when outdoor activities are on the rise but the number of Hispanics who fish is stagnant. The foundation has a goal of increasing the number of Hispanics who fish from 1.6 million to 3 million over the next five years.

"When the numbers come out we high-five because we see growth in fishing," said Frank Peterson, RBFF's president and CEO. "(But) when we look deeper into the numbers, Hispanics are participating at a much lower rate. We know there's a major segment we're missing and we feel it's very important for the sport."

To reverse the trend, RBFF has hired Houston-based Lopez Negrete Communications, which specializes in Hispanic marketing and ranked No. 167 on the 2013 HispanicBusiness 500 index, to develop a plan to raise awareness. The company is tasked with creating a campaign that includes traditional and social media, devising a retail point-of-sale strategy and working with state agencies.

Happy hikers, social anglers and fishing fanatics

In an initial study, the foundation found two major themes: a lack of awareness about the sport and unfamiliarity with the licensing requirements. All states require fishing licenses, with the money from the licenses being used to stock fisheries, make marina improvements and support watershed projects.

Mr. Peterson said that when the campaign is rolled out next year it will initially focus on awareness and education, and will primarily focus on Texas, California and Florida -- states with large Hispanic populations.

Based in Alexandria, Va., the RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating. Its funding comes through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We're going to concentrate on the fishing aspect first," Mr. Peterson said. "We've broken it down into three segments -- happy hikers, social anglers and fishing fanatics. Although we're concentrating on a small segment, we're still talking about millions of people."

Adding more anglers to the sport can only help the marine industry, which was battered by the recession but is slowly coming back. A larger participation base not only helps boat builders and engine manufacturers but retailers such as Walmart, which sells 35 percent of fishing tackle in the U.S.

"There's this large market and no one is going after it," Mr. Peterson said. "The marine industry knows they should . . . so we're going to do it on their behalf."

Mr. Peterson wouldn't disclose how much money the organization is spending other than to call it a "multimillion-dollar campaign." RBFF is taking money from other projects to move forward with the new initiative.

The Hispanic outreach program had been under consideration for the past couple of years, Mr. Peterson said, but acknowledged that the 2012 election convinced the RBFF's board of directors to move forward.

"I think the election did have a little influence on my board," he said. "When they saw the potential, it was an easy sell."

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