On Wednesday, July 1, both the U.S. House and Senate moved to reauthorize a critical fisheries conservation program known as the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF), 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 Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act (H.R. 4828) was included as part of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, which passed the House last week. H.R. 4828 was championed by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members Representatives Joe Cunningham (D-SC) and Garret Graves (R-LA), who introduced this bipartisan bill in October 2019. On the same day of H.R. 2 passage, CSC Member and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Senate companion of the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act (S. 4144). Both of these bills will reauthorize the “user pays – public benefits” Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund to fund aquatic habitat improvements, fishing and boating access, and boating safety.
As an active member of the Angling and Boating Alliance (ABA), which consists of the top recreational fishing and boating organizations who work to advance pro-conservation bills, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has played a key role in securing the movement of the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act. CSF was able to secure the inclusion of H.R. 4828 as part of H.R. 2 through countless efforts and outreach to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee including a letter signed by members of the ABA in support of H.R. 4828.
“The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund is the most important financial contribution to fisheries conservation and is based wholly on the backs of anglers and boaters, a clear sign of the commitment by sportsmen and women to ensure healthy habitats and robust aquatic resources,” said CSF Senior Director of Fisheries Policy and Midwestern States Chris Horton. “We are thrilled to see these bills moving through Congress with strong bipartisan support.”
Both bills await further action in the U.S. Senate where CSF is working to secure their passage.
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?