U.S. Senate committee advances conservation bill

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The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed bipartisan conservation legislation that includes several components that recreational fishing advocates support, including authorization of key national and regional fisheries programs and protections for traditional fishing tackle.

America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (S. 3051) was introduced by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R- Wyo.), chairman of the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, and ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.).

The bipartisan legislation, which is supported by several outdoor and fisheries conservation organizations, passed the committee unanimously and will move to the full Senate for consideration.

“Bipartisanship is a rare commodity these days in Washington, but natural resources conservation is one area that garners support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” said American Sportfishing Association government affairs vice president Mike Leonard in a statement. “Multiple bipartisan wins were included in this major legislation, such as the authorization of the National Fish Habitat Partnership program and support for programs important to fisheries conservation in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. When Congress comes together to support conservation and recreational fishing access, great things can be accomplished, and we welcome more bipartisan collaboration.”

The ACE Act includes:

  • Authorizing the National Fish Habitat Partnership program, a state and locally driven conservation initiative that funds on-the-ground restoration projects. Federally authorizing this program will help provide more consistent federal funding and establish a strategic framework creating certainty for restoration and conservation projects, according to the ASA.
  • Lead fishing tackle provisions, exempting them from federal regulations and bans.
  • Restoration and conservation programs to help clean up Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
  • A Great Lakes-focused provision that will help support fisheries data collection that also authorizes the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct biological assessments needed for conserving and maintaining the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishery.