House committee approves addition to recreational fishing bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the House Natural Resources Committee approved the addition of H.R. 3310 to the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act in early October. H.R. 3310, known as the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act, would ensure recreational anglers would be able to drop lines at waterways operated by federal, state and local agencies.

The congressional bill was spawned when the National Park Service reportedly declared a no-fishing marine reserve in Biscayne Bay just south of Miami, Florida.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, one of the authors of H.R. 3310, said the declaration of a no-fishing zone at Biscayne National Park denied access to public waters.

She urged the National Park Service to develop a general management plan with fish and wildlife agencies to balance fishermen’s access and the interest of environmental groups to protect marine habitats.

Whether H.R. 3310 and SHARE would impact marine protected areas off the Southern California coast will be reported upon in future coverage of the two legislative acts.

Rep. Robert Whitman (R-Virginia) introduced SHARE (H.R. 2406) on the House floor in May.

H.R. 2406 specifically addresses lead sport fishing equipment and which federal lands would be required to remain open for recreational angling.

“The SHARE Act aims to ensure that future generations will have ample access to federal lands to hunt, fish, and shoot,” House Natural Resources Committee staff stated in am Oct. 8 memorandum. “Federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) often prevent or impede access to federal lands for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting that should otherwise be available for those activities. Since lack of access is one of the key reasons why sportsmen and women may stop participating in traditional outdoor sporting activities, ensuring that the public has reliable access to our nation’s federal lands must remain a priority.”

The legislation moves ahead to the full House of Representatives for a vote.  Senators would receive the bill if it survives the House.

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