Congress passed the Transportation Bill on Thursday and included a five-year reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.
The bill is headed to President Obama’s office to await his signature.
Notable features of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 include:
• New language regarding the $1.2 million that funds the Sport Fish and Boating Partnership Council and the four fisheries commissions, but with no substantive policy or funding change from present law
• Provisions regarding the distribution of funds to Boating Infrastructure Grants and Clean Vessel Act grants in an effort to find administrative fund efficiencies and to provide states with more flexibility in how they use these funds
• Alters the $3 million Multi-State Conservation Grant Program from an off-the-top deduction and includes it in the sport fish restoration distribution
• Provides a new and different way to arrive at the Coast Guard administrative fees as a hard cost total amount off the top
• Of the total amount, $1.5 million is specific for the boating survey, $2.1 million is for the manufacturers’ compliance program also known as Chapter 43, and the remainder —$4.3 million in fiscal 2016 — is for administering the state grant program currently done with the 2 percent of the recreational boating and sport fish distribution, which is about $2 million, as well as conducting the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Safety program.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association applauded the bill and said it has been working with the Angling and Boating Alliance for nearly three years “on a number of policy changes that the recreational boating and fishing community believes are needed to keep the SFRBTF the world’s premier aquatic conservation, and boating and fishing access funding mechanism.”