Senate Commerce Committee Votes to Advance Significant Fisheries Conservation Bill

On July 22, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted to advance the recently introduced Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Trust Fund), S. 4144, which redirects roughly $650 million annually in excise taxes on fishing equipment including tackle, motorboat and small engine fuel, electric motors, and other equipment for the purpose of on-the-ground, state-driven fisheries conservation programs. The Trust Fund is the largest and most significant fisheries conservation program nationwide and is a critical component of the “user-pays, public-benefits” American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). 

Prior to committee passage, S. 4144 was introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (MS) as well as Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (WA). Through its active role as a member of the Angling and Boating Alliance (ABA), the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has played a significant role in shepherding the introduction and advancement of S. 4144 out of the Senate Commerce Committee. Additionally, CSF was instrumental in securing the passage of the House companion bill of the Trust Fund (H.R. 4828), which passed the House on July 1 as part of a larger package in the form of H.R. 2.

“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell for quickly advancing the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust of out of the Commerce Committee,” said CSF Senior Director of Fisheries Policy and Midwestern States Chris Horton. “This bill is critically important to state-based fisheries conservation, improving access opportunities for recreational anglers and boaters, and enhancing angler and boating educational programs.”

Both versions of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund await further action in the U.S. Senate, and CSF is actively working to further advance these bills. 

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Recently, Virginia has proposed legislation that would make the punishment for poaching, in their state, a 1-5 year prison sentence through HB-449. Poaching undermines the social acceptance of hunters, jobs, recreation, local and state economies, and conservation efforts. How should poachers be punished?

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