The American Sportfishing Association expressed support for legislation introduced last week to reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.
Funded in part by the federal excise tax on fishing equipment paid by the sportfishing industry, the SFRBTF supports state-based programs for sport fish conservation and habitat restoration, infrastructure for boating access, and education for anglers and boaters.
The Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2019 was introduced by U.S. Representatives Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and Garrett Graves (R-La.). The legislation would reauthorize the SFRBTF through 2024 and prioritize administrative efforts to improve the efficiency of the program.
“No one cares more about clean water and healthy fisheries than the recreational fishing community, as evidenced by the financial contributions we make to these efforts through excise taxes, licenses and donations,” Mike Leonard, ASA vice president of government affairs, said in a statement. “Since its inception in 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration program has provided billions of dollars to fund fisheries conservation and public access to aquatic resources, providing opportunities for the nation’s 49 million recreational fishermen to enjoy time on the water. Rep Cunningham’s Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2019 will strengthen and maintain this highly successful program into the future.”
Fishing equipment manufacturer Shimano, which has a facility in Ladson, S.C., also supports the legislation. “The excise tax on fishing equipment, which we and other manufacturers pay, helps support state fish and wildlife agencies like the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to manage and provide access to fishing. We are grateful to Rep. Cunningham for his leadership to ensure this vital fund continues to benefit not only the South Carolina Lowcountry, but fishing destinations throughout the country.”
Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy in Baton Rouge, La., said the sportfishing industry owes the congressmen a “huge thank you for continuing to lead on sportfishing issues with their introduction of the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2019.”
The SFRBTF is funded through multiple sources of revenue, including the federal excise tax on recreational fishing equipment, the boat fuel tax and import duties. Each year about $650 million is provided from the SFRBTF to state wildlife agencies for fisheries management and restoration projects, as well as boating infrastructure and other purposes.
Nearly $50 billion is spent each year on recreational fishing, and it supports more than 800,000 jobs with an overall economic impact of $125 billion.