Legislation critical to the future of the US sportfishing industry has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee.
The passage of the Sportfish Restoration, Recreational Boating Safety and Wildlife Restoration Act was one of several bills supported by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).
“We’re pleased to see the committee’s strong support for reauthorising the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund,” said Mike Leonard, Vice President of Government Affairs for the ASA. “The fund is the backbone of state-based aquatic resource conservation, benefiting all 50 states, the nation’s 55 million anglers and the $129 billion recreational fishing economy.”
The bill was authored by Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (Dem – Washington) and ranking member Roger Wicker (Rep – Mississippi).
The committee rejected an amendment that would have hampered the states’ ability to use funds to acquire real property for conservation or public access purposes. Prior to the hearing, the ASA had encouraged committee members to reject the amendment, pointing to the popular track record of the fund being used to conserve fish habitat and create fishing and boating access.
The committee also approved the Surface Transportation Investment Act, which authorises transportation infrastructure programmes under the committee’s jurisdiction.
This bill includes a landmark National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Grant Programme, which will address challenges with hundreds of culverts, particularly those in the Pacific north-west that threaten salmon and steelhead runs.
The bill authorises $800 million for each of the next five fiscal years to advance both economic and environmental goals by removing man-made barriers to help recreate natural stream conditions.
Other ASA supported bills approved include:
“The Senate Commerce Committee’s advancement of these bills is an important step in the legislative process,” said Leonard. “We call on Congress to recognise and prioritise the economic, social and conservation benefits of healthy and accessible aquatic resources.”