A new report by social scientists at NOAA Fisheries reveals that viewing or photographing the ocean was the top activity for ocean lovers in the U.S. in number of participants, days spent, and how much people paid to do it.
The recently released report provides results from the National Ocean Recreation Expenditure Survey, the first of its kind for NOAA. Responses to the survey indicate that in 2012, the baseline year chosen by researchers, 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. That spending supported more than 3.1 million full and part-time jobs, $409 billion in income to businesses, and $135 billion to household incomes.
First NOAA Survey of its Kind
“This is the first national survey undertaken by NOAA Fisheries to estimate participation levels and the numbers of days people spent enjoying a broad range of ocean and coastal recreation activities,” said co-author Scott Steinback, an economist in the Social Sciences Branch at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. “Nothing of this magnitude had been attempted before, so it took a long time to collect the data, analyze it, and pull it together into a comprehensive report.”
The wide-ranging survey was conducted in 2012 and 2013. Focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and other techniques were used to test the survey design before the main survey period began in March 2012. 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. That way data could be collected when changes in weather and temperatures influenced when people were most likely to be participating in various ocean and coastal recreation activities.