The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission just dropped five new interactive games that engage and educate students of all ages on marine fisheries conservation.
The FWC has partnered with the leading digital education company, Pubbly, known for its foundational learning games, to create the latest Gone Fishin’ saltwater interactive editions. Players can Take a virtual fishing trip, match habitats with Florida fish species, remove trash—and the invasive lionfish—from a reef, learn proper fish handling techniques and complete a virtual fish dissection.
Kudos to the FWC. The games are geared for 4th graders and up but can be enjoyed by all. They bring some marine science to your fingertips with content accessible at home or in the classroom. Click here to learn more.
Everyone in our industry should acknowledge the benefits received from Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund. It is simply one of the most successful users pay/ user benefit programs ever created. Since its inception in 1950, the SFR&BTF has provided nearly $8.3 billion on grant funds for boating access and fishing programs—ranging from ramp construction to the educational and promotional efforts of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, and much more.
Where does the money come from? Excise taxes on a variety of fishing equipment; motorboat and other small engine fuels paid by boaters; tax on electric motors, import duties on tackle and yachts; and fund interest. The money is apportioned to the states and territories based on a formula that includes land area (40 percent) and the certified number of fishing license holders (the remaining 60 percent).
It’s also good that each state benefits, as there are program maximums and minimums. Equally important, funds are disbursed to states for approved grants up to 75 percent of the project costs, so the states must ante up their share.
The groundwork for today’s SFR&BTF might go back 150 years to 1871; when the nation’s fish populations were first reported to be declining. Congress reportedly recognized the problem and began encouraging wildlife agencies to implement new management techniques. However, it wasn’t until 1937—66 years later—that the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act was passed, establishing excise taxes on outdoor sports equipment, with proceeds going specifically to wildlife enhancement in 1937.
Thirteen years later, Congress enacted the Sport Fish Restoration Program. It was better known as the "Dingell-Johnson Act," for its two sponsors and applied a 10-percent manufacturer's excise tax on fishing rods, creels, lures and flies. The funds were transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which continues to administer funding today.
By 1984, the funding had become inadequate. Sen. Malcolm Wallop and Rep. John Breaux authored the Wallop-Breaux Amendment, extending the tax to tackle boxes, sonar fish finders, motorboat fuels, electric motors, and other equipment not included in the earlier laws. Moreover, the Wallop-Breaux Amendment requires 15 percent of all restoration money be spent on public boating access and requires coastal states to fund marine recreational fisheries projects proportionate to the ratio of resident freshwater to saltwater anglers.
The best news is the amendment enlarged the fund from $40 million annually in 1950 to $404.4 million in 2009. Today, the fund exceeds $600 million annually, with the overwhelming majority of funds being spent by the states to enhance fresh- and saltwater fishing and boating access.
Talk about an outstanding benefit to our sport! It’s why whenever this funding is up for renewal every level of boating is called on to lobby hard to safeguard its reauthorization.