The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) expressed its strong support for bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF), which was introduced Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The SFRBTF, which is funded in part by the federal excise tax on fishing equipment paid by the sportfishing industry, funds state-based programs for sportfish 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. Reps. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and Garret Graves (R-La). This bipartisan legislation would reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF) through 2024 and make important administrative improvements 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, license fees and donations,” said Mike Leonard, vice president, Government Affairs, for the American Sportfishing Association. “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.”
“From our North American Fishing headquarters in Ladson, S.C., Shimano is proud to continue our legacy of supporting fisheries conservation, including through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund,” said Dave Pfeiffer, president of Shimano North American Fishing and ASA board member. “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.”
“As America’s original conservationists, our nation’s anglers proudly contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually to conservation and habitat restoration efforts,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy based in Baton Rouge, LA. “A huge thank you to Congressmen Graves and Cunningham for continuing to lead on sportfishing issues with their introduction of the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2019, which will ensure these critical conservation dollars continue to fund state natural resource management and conservation.”
This 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.
The SFRBTF began in 1950 with the passage of the Dingell-Johnson Act which established a federal excise tax on recreational fishing equipment. Reauthorizations throughout the years have adjusted the SFRBTF to better meet conservation needs, but it has continually provided federal funding for conservation. These federal funds, along with state fishing licensing fees paid by anglers and private donations from angling organizations, has added up to more than $38 billion in conservation funding since 1951 which underscores the large impact anglers have on conservation.
Recreational fishing is one of America’s favorite pastimes enjoyed by over 49 million anglers across the country. Proper funding of restoration and conservation projects will only help to increase opportunities for anglers as well as help generate a larger economic impact. Nearly $50 billion is spent each year by anglers which support more than 800,000 jobs with an overall economic impact of nearly $125 billion.