Why It Matters: The surge in fishing and hunting participation during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of our nations vast outdoors and abundant natural resources as an opportunity for Americans to reconnect with nature and improve mental and physical health. While most federal agencies responsible for managing our natural resources have programs to introduce the public to the resources they manage, NOAA currently lacks any such program for introducing Americans to recreational fishing.
- Last week, Representatives Maria Elvira Salazar (FL) and Don McEachin (VA) and Senators Roger Wicker (MS) and Maria Cantwell (WA) introduced the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act, a bipartisan bill to increase recreational fishing opportunities for America’s youth in coastal communities.
- 88% of current fishing participants began fishing before the age of 12, and recreational fishing offers an ideal way to immerse young people in the outdoors, develop an appreciation for nature, and improve physical and mental health.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is one of the few federal land and water management agencies that currently does not have dedicated programs to connect the public with nature.
On September 22, Representatives Maria Elvira Salazar and Don McEachin in the House and Senators Roger Wicker and Maria Cantwell in the Senate introduced the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act of 2022, a bill that would establish a grant program through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for youth fishing projects. CSF strongly supports the legislation and recently joined members of the recreational fishing and boating community on a letter expressing our appreciation for the development of the program under NOAA.
While the nation’s coastline represents less than 10% of the contiguous land area in the United States, around 40% of our population lives near the coast. The close proximity of so many Americans to our rich marine and Great Lakes resources provides a perfect opportunity to introduce young people to recreational fishing and instill a deeper appreciation of our nation’s marine and freshwater environments.
NOAA is the only federal land management agency that does not have a dedicated recreational program to introduce the public to the outdoors. This bill would create another pathway for federal agencies responsible for management of our natural resources to connect the public with those resources. Specifically, this program will provide grants to eligible entities to:
Recreational anglers were among the nation’s first conservationists. The Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act will be instrumental in introducing more young people to the outdoors and help to build upon our nation’s conservation successes, ensuring we have abundant marine and Great Lakes fisheries resources for future generations.
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?