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U.S. Senate passes key recreational fishing legislation

Lead tackle would be exempted from federal regulations and bans.

Lead tackle would be exempted from federal regulations and bans.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill that recreational fishing advocates say includes several positive measures for the industry.

America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, or ACE, would protect lead fishing tackle, authorize a national fish habitat partnership program, restore the Chesapeake Bay and allocate funds to research and assess the Great Lakes.

“Many of us grew up fishing with our friends and family and these memories are what help drive a bipartisan consensus on good conservation policy in Congress,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association, in a statement.

Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Tom Carper, D-Del., were instrumental in getting the bill to pass unanimously, said Leonard.

Details of the bill include:

  • Lead fishing tackle protections: Lead fishing tackle, which is commonly used in nearly all forms of fishing and poses no national threat to wildlife populations or human health, according to the ASA, would be exempted from federal regulations and bans.
  • National Fish Habitat Partnership program authorization: This is a state- and locally-driven conservation initiative that funds on-the-ground fish habitat restoration projects.
  • Chesapeake Bay restoration and conservation: Conservation and restoration programs to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
  • Great Lakes research and assessment: The Great Lakes-focused provision in the legislation will help support fisheries data collection in the Great Lakes. It also authorizes the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct biological assessments needed for conserving and maintaining the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishery.
  • “The ACE Act supports a wide range of fish and wildlife conservation policies, including the National Fish Habitat Partnership authorization as well as the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay restoration programs,” said Leonard. “Enactment of this legislation would be a tremendous win for the recreational fishing community. We urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this broadly-supported legislation as it currently stands.”

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