The bill would reauthorize the Sport Fishing Restoration and Boating Trust Fund program originally established in 1984.
WASHINGTON D.C.一 On June 9 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell, representative from Washington, and ranking member Roger Wicker representative from Mississippi introduced the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2021.
The bill would reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, a fund that supports fishery restoration and conservation efforts, boating access and infrastructure, as well as fish stocking programs, according to a June 15 article from Boating Industry.
The legislation would also authorize studies on impacts of non-motorized vessel use on vessel waterway access as well as the impact of abandoned vessels.
The fund was initially established in 1950, and at the time used a 10 percent federal manufacturers excise tax on certain types of fishing equipment to fund and enhance sportfishing projects, according to an informational brochure from Angling Boating Alliance.
“Since 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund has been a key component in increasing access for marine and freshwater anglers by protecting vital habitats,” said Wicker in a June 9 press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “Our legislation would reauthorize this important fund while implementing studies aimed to improve the program. I thank Chair Cantwell for working with me to advance this measure.”
At the time the fund only covered sportfishing, in 1971 The Recreational Boating Safety Program was established to fund boating safety education programs, it was amended in 1980 so it would draw funding from taxes on motorboat fuel, and in 1984 the two programs were combined under the Wallop-Breaux Act.
The act expanded the 10 percent tax to include nearly all sportfishing products and used the federal motorboat fuel taxes.
In recent years the fund supports roughly $650 million annually in fishery restoration and conservation and boating access and infrastructure.
The legislation would reauthorize the fund through the fiscal year 2026; authorize a report on the use of the trust fund towards non-motorized vessel access; and authorize impacts and potential solutions for abandoned vessels.
“Washingtonians love recreational fishing,” said Cantwell in the June 9 press release. “That means boating, charter fishing, fly fishing, or even fishing just off the dock. Give us any means possible and we will fish. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which helps keep our lines in the water – and fish on the road to recovery by supporting $600 million per year in fisheries restoration, conservation, and improving access for outdoor recreation.”