November 5, 2015

Angling Groups Comment on Conservation, Recreation Priorities in Washington State

On October 31, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), American Sportfishing Association (ASA), B.A.S.S., and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) submitted a joint letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) outlining fisheries issues affecting the state’s 938,000 anglers. The letter urges the WDFW to consider refocusing key areas in its outdoor recreation and conservation priorities.

In August 2015, WDFW recently began collecting comments online and through listening sessions on how conservation and outdoor recreation can be improved in the state.

The letter noted three major suggestions for the WDFW: to use the best available science when making management decisions; to pursue enhanced funding to the state from successfully sustained fisheries management funding models; and to consider the implementation of new and increased avenues for soliciting angler input.

Recently, politically motivated efforts to limit or eliminate hatchery fish production in Washington has posed a severe threat to angling opportunities in the state, as does the increasing politicization of fisheries issues. These threats, in addition to issues like habitat loss and forage availability, constitute serious threats to funding for fisheries management in Washington. Last year alone, nearly $7 million went to the state from the federal Sport Fish Restoration program, which collects excise taxes on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel; while in 2013, Washington generated nearly $23.5 million in revenue through fishing license sales to fund conservation and education efforts.

It is critical to take public input into consideration, and use the best available science to make decisions regarding fisheries regulations. Anglers provide a significant portion of funding for fisheries management and conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays – public benefits” program.

Each year, anglers in Washington account for nearly $1.2 billion in economic activity, in addition to providing over 16,000 jobs statewide and $120 million in state and local tax revenue.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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