Congress weighing in on Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund

Bills introduced in the Senate would reauthorize the fund, if approved and signed into law, to support sportfish conservation and habitat restoration. House bill would also promote conservation measures.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The second half of 2020 is finally underway – and federal legislators appear to be working toward the renewal of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

A version of the trust fund legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate on July 1 and would extend the sportfish conservation and habitat restoration mandate through 2024. The bill was reportedly introduced in the upper house by members of the Senate Commerce Committee (Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and Maria Cantwell, D-Washington).

Members of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, introduced H.R. 2, known as the “Moving Forward Act;” the bill was introduced on July 1. Included within the package for H.R. 2 is the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act. The House proposal would also reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund while also making administrative adjustments to improve the fund’s efficiency.

“The Sport Fish Restoration Program is one of the nation’s most important conservation programs,” American Sportfishing Association Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard said. “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 50 million recreational fishermen to enjoy time on the water.”

Funding for the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund is made possible through a federal excise tax on recreational fishing equipment, boat fuel tax and import duties. The fund provides $650 million each year for state wildlife agencies to pay for fisheries management, restoration projects and boating infrastructure, among other projects.

The Dingell-Johnson Act helped established the fund in 1950, with the creation of a federal excise tax on recreational fishing equipment.

The American Sportfishing Association stated the trust fund, in combination with state fishing license fees and private donations, has infused more than $38 billion for conservation projects since 1951.

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